A soggy spring has kept many Wisconsin farmers out of their corn fields.
The National Agriculture Statistics Service says about 4 percent of corn fields in Wisconsin have been planted, well behind the normal pace of about 26 percent by this time.
It's a similar scenario across America's breadbasket, where 12 percent of the nation's cornfields have been planted. That's about a quarter of what was planted by this date over the previous five years.
Most of the planting in Wisconsin has been to the south. Brown County agriculture agent Mark Hagedorn tells WLUK-TV (http://bit.ly/15CgKCT ) there isn't much being done to the north, but that could change in three to five days without any significant rainfall.
If farmers can’t get into their fields soon in southern Wisconsin, it’ll start costing them money.
That from Mike Powers, a division administrator with the state Department of Agriculture, who says it’s just been too wet, "And it won't be very long and some of the farmers who were projecting planting acreages may have set or tied the 1981 record for about 4.5 million acres of corn in Wisconsin... might be switching to other crops."
Powers says this is a critical time, "Optimum planting dates, depending upon soil types, could be the later part of April into the first week of May; then farmers start to see a decrease in the projected yields, depending upon a normal standard season, and we haven't seen one of them in a while."
While he appreciates the dry conditions yesterday (4/16), rain is back in the forecast. He says if the planting season continues to get delayed, it’ll cost some farmers thousands of dollars a day, "It can be as much as a bushel or two per acre per day and for some of the larger farmers who are retailing their grain, that can end up to be thousands of dollars per day in yield."
Powers also notes the impact this will have on Wisconsin's economy, "As world demand for grain and feed increases, the consumption of corn with ethanol, as Wisconsin is one of the leaders in the nation for the export of ethanol, our corn stocks, coming out of a drought year, heading into the next year, there are many farmers who are very, very dependent on a good crop season this year."
The rain total in Madison so far this month is nearly four inches.
That’s more than twice as much as average for this time in April.