Record late planting puts farmers in tough spot

ROCK CO., Wis (WMTV) - Corn and soybean planting are weeks behind and many farmers are left not knowing what to do following the soggy spring.

Nick Baker, the Rock Co. agriculture agent for the UW-Madison extension service, said this could cause a ripple effect, as farming is not only a large employer for the region, but is also tied to what people ultimately see in the grocery store.

“It is really that bad. Talking with university specialists- as long as they have kept records on planting progress and planting dates, this is the latest and slowest we have ever seen in Wisconsin and that trend is throughout the Midwest,” Baker said.

According to the most recent report from the United States Dept. of Agriculture Statistics Service, both corn and soybean planting in the state is around two weeks behind last year.

One Janesville farmer. Nick Venable, said he farms around 2,200 acres, with most of the crop being corn. Venable said this is the worst year they have experienced as well when it comes to getting the plants in the ground.

"Usually this time of year corn is pushing waist high, and by the Fourth of July we are always usually shoulder high,” Venable said.

Venable said after the snow hit in April, their work in the field stalled for weeks.

"I wouldn't say we quite got to panic mode yet, but we were fortunate to get most of our crop in the middle of May,” he said.

Baker said with crop insurance deadlines passed, farmers are faced with tough options.

“We are looking for alternative forage systems or alternative crops, cover crop recommendations and anything we can do to help the farmers this year,” Baker said.

Venable said he is fortunate enough to have most of his crop planted now, but knows others are not so lucky in the Midwest.

"Where we are on the prairie, we were very fortunate the soil drains really well. But yes, a lot of my close friends who farm closer to the state line or south, some of them only have 50 percent of their crop in or a quarter of their crop in,” Venable said.

Baker said farmers are either making do with the crop they have already planted, looking at planting alternative crops, or planting a cover crop to keep the soil ready for the next season.