Unseasonably wet, cold weather leaves area farmers wondering when they can begin annual ritual
If it were an ideal spring, farmers would have roughly 10% of their corn planted by now, Ozaukee County Agriculture Agent Dan Oâ€™Neil said Tuesday.
â€śIf you could pick one day a year to plant your whole corn crop, it would be May 1,â€ť Oâ€™Neil said.
The soil temperature would be warm enough for planting, and the growing season would be just right for a maximum yield.
But this spring is anything but ideal, Oâ€™Neil said.
â€śI would expect that by May 1 weâ€™ll be at zero corn planted,â€ť he said.
â€śNormally, this is a time when we would probably have 50% of the spring grains planted. Most of the alfalfa would be planted, and 10% of the corn. We sure wonâ€™t be there this spring.â€ť
Credit the cold, rainy, miserable spring weâ€™ve had so far.
Itâ€™s left the vast majority of people with a bad case of spring fever, waiting for warm weather.
Itâ€™s left high school sports teams postponing event after event, with the prospect of a stacked schedule when the weather warms.
And itâ€™s left farmers waiting.
â€śPretty much everythingâ€™s on hold,â€ť Oâ€™Neil said. â€śJust about nothingâ€™s been done. If it was cold and dry enough, people would still get some spring crops in, but that just hasnâ€™t happened. And it looks like weâ€™re going to be waiting another week or more.â€ť
Jim Melichar said heâ€™s been busy at his Town of Port Washington farm â€” but not with crops.
Heâ€™s building a new milking parlor, a project started in October but 90 days behind schedule because of winter weather.
â€śThis whole winter was so crazy,â€ť Melichar said. â€śThe crops, we havenâ€™t done anything. Weâ€™re going to be behind.â€ť
But, he noted, the situation was similar last year, when it rained until mid-June.
â€śWe didnâ€™t plant corn until June 20,â€ť Melichar said. â€śWe still survived.
â€śAfter last year, weâ€™re still optimistic about this year.â€ť
Farmers donâ€™t tend to get nervous about planting until May 10 has come and gone, Melichar said.
â€śBut every year is different,â€ť he said. â€śThe one thing we canâ€™t change is weather. It is what it is.â€ť
Melichar said he believed the wet spring is a cyclical event.
â€śYou used to hear the old guys telling you how bad it was in the â€™20s and â€™30s,â€ť he said. â€śI remember this as a teenager taking the tractor out to plant alfalfa and it started raining in the middle of it. The tractor stopped, and it sat there for two weeks before we could get about again.â€ť
The extended forecast doesnâ€™t call for the weather to break until mid-May, Melichar noted.
â€śYou just have to keep yourself busy, and when itâ€™s ready, you have to be ready to go,â€ť he said.
â€śItâ€™s all about getting things ready now so when we get that week or 10 days break in the weather, youâ€™re ready to go,â€ť he said. â€śWhen itâ€™s time, when the conditions get acceptable for planting, everything has to get done at once.
â€śThings can turn around in a real hurry.â€ť