WisBusiness: Ag Community Welcomes Rain, But More Needed Soon

By Brian E. Clark

Southern Wisconsin got a “million dollar rain” Wednesday morning that brought from a quarter to a half-an-inch of inch of moisture to many parched corn, soybean and hay fields.

In some parts of northern Dane County, more than an inch of rain was recorded.

“This was huge,” said Joe Lauer, a UW-Madison agronomy professor. “It will get us through the next three or four days. But then we will need more rain by the end of that period.”

According to the National Agriculture Statistics Office, fields throughout the state are dry. Only 10 percent had adequate moisture, while 35 percent were short and 55 percent were very short.

Laurer, who is the state’s Extension Service corn expert, said the gentle rain was fairly widespread from northern Illinois to the southern third of Wisconsin.

It was doubly important that it fell this week because the corn is now pollinating, he said. Soybeans are also at a crucial stage in their development.

“It was significant and it was a good soak,” said Laurer, who said nearly an inch was recorded at the university’s Arlington research station north of Madison.

He said though the amount of rain will vary from county to county, it appeared to cover a wide swath of territory.

“I made a drive this past weekend from Madison to La Crosse to Fond du Lac and back to Madison and saw some corn fields that had been killed,” he said.

“They won’t green up again,” he lamented. “But for others that were stressed, this was worth a million bucks.

“There was a 100-mile swath from Spring Green to Manitowoc that was really hurting,” he said. “This rain will help all over, but even more in that area.”

Farming is a risky business, however, and growers without irrigation systems will be keeping their fingers crossed for more moisture in coming weeks.

“For the crops to grow and fill out, we’ll need an inch of rain a week,” he said.