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FARMERS IN THEIR FIELDS EARLY
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 -- 10:39 am
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director


Weíve been without snow for so long, it seems much later than April 28thóbut, it is only April 28th.

The warm weather and dry fields have allowed farmers to get cracking with crop work earlier than normal.

Clark County UW-Extension crops and soils agent Richard Halopka says small grains, like wheat, oats and barley, are probably over 75-percent planted. Even corn planting is going strong.

"In a normal year, we'd just be getting started by May 1," Halopka notes.

According to the latest crops report, about 20% of Wisconsinís corn crop was planted as of Sunday. That number will probably skyrocket this week.

But, with the early planting come some risks.

"You have that risk of having a late frost in May, early June, and that corn growing point above the soil's surface. That can be a challenge," he says.

But, the plus-side is there are more days for the crop to mature.

Along with the frost risk, crops are going to be at risk of drought conditions. Itís been an amazingly dry spring so far, and we didnít have a lot of moisture built up in the soil to begin with.

"I have some concerns," he says. "Coming in, our available soil moisture was lower than normal, plus, if we're behind on rainfall, we've got a double whammy looking at us right now."

Thankfully fertilizer prices are down a bit from last year, while seed prices are a bit higher. Halopka has heard more farmers planning to plant some wheat this spring.


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