Crop loss could spike dairy and meat prices

FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) -- The Fourth of July has come and gone, and unlike the traditional saying, some crops still aren’t knee high.

Farmers across Northeast Wisconsin have faced this problem for months, and it doesn’t look like it’s easing up any time soon.

Action 2 News first told you about this months ago, when a warm winter knocked out much of Wisconsin’s alfalfa crop. Because of this, places like Kewaunee and Door Counties were declared a disaster area by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

As summer approached, rainy weather caused even more delays.

“We had such tiny little windows that we were rain free, so you had to maybe plant some seeds in conditions that weren’t the best,” says dairy farmer Mark Petersen. “You could see in the weather forecast, it wouldn’t allow an opportunity down the line.”

“A lot of farmers made the decision that the field was never fully ready, so they planted at 80 percent, 90 percent,” says Kevin Jarek, a crops, soils and horticulture agent at UW Extension. “They went around areas, or they just mudded through, knowing that they would take a loss on those parts.”

According to Peterson, the loss could be anywhere from 15 to 20 percent.

But it’s not just a concern for farmers. These struggling crops could yield in higher dairy or meat prices.

“If there is undesirable weather during pollination, not only in Wisconsin, but the rest of the corn belt, you will definitely see activity in the markets,” says Jarek. “That would result in prices changing, because the weather scare would be real then. As far as impacting the final yield of the crop.”

There’s still a chance for this season’s crop to pan out, if Northeast Wisconsin sees drier days.

“The critical point is in about 2 to 3 weeks here, toward the end of July, when we start to see what the weather is like during pollination,” Jarek says.

Over the next few weeks, ideal weather for pollination would be warm and relatively dry: in the 80’s during the day and 60’s at night, with about an inch of rain per week.