Drought conditions worsen in most of Wisconsin

Drought conditions may cause poor harvests later in the year
Published: Jun. 22, 2023 at 5:59 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Warm and sunny weather is great for days at the lake, but not so much for farmers.

”So the irony is, earlier this year farmers had to wait because it was too cold and too cold up here in Wisconsin,” said Kevin Jarek, UW Madison Extension Crops and Soils Educator.

The climate changed very quickly from very wet to very dry, and now many counties in the area are officially in a drought - which isn’t simple to get out of.

“So when we talk about moving out of a drought, we are several inches in rainfall behind so it is not going to be remedied by one single rain event,” Jarek explained.

Despite some recent rainfall, it’s not enough to allow crops to grow stably.

“We had a rain event two weeks ago but not everyone got an equal amount, so I can take you to farms where the crops and the rows look excellent and I can take you to farms where it’s clear they missed out on the rain not just the first time but the second time,” Jarek further noted.

The inconsistent rain can lead to different growth rates within a single crop - and that will lead to a more difficult harvesting season.

“You’re going to look for a bag of apples that has nice ripe uniform apples in it. Well, the equivalent would be you have a bag of apples, there’s some that are ripe, there’s some that are over ripe and there are some that are immature green,” said Jarek.

On top of everything else, many farmers are having increased issues with weeds due to the specific conditions needed to activate pesticides. But there is some hope on the horizon.

”The chance for rain this weekend, if we could get significant rainfall, an inch or more, that would keep us stable, we might not improve significantly but we won’t deteriorate,” Jarek opined.