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Winter could delay planting season

Deep frost puts state at high risk of manure run-off

Winter could delay planting season

SPARTA, Wis. (WKBT) - The spring planting season is right around the corner.

Farmers are hoping to get back into their fields as soon as possible, but the season looks like it might be delayed.

The brutal winter left behind deeply rooted frost. That frost is now causing farmers to hold off on spreading manure near water ways on their fields because there's a high risk of run off across the state. But while farmers wait to spread those important nutrients, planting season continues to creep up.

Typically this time of year farmers are spreading manure across their fields.

"You want to put your manure out before you work your fields," Sparta farmer Steve Herrman said.

Deep frost is blocking the important nutrients in manure from getting into the soil and put the state at a high risk for potential run off.

"The challenge every spring is making sure that we're getting those nutrients where they need to be on the field and not losing them to run off," Steve Huntzicker, La Crosse County UW_Extension agriculture agent, said.

"If the frost is out of the ground then it's easier to start to spread because any of the nutrients will soak into the ground. Otherwise if it rains and the grounds frozen then it just runs off into your streams and cricks," Herrman said.

Herrman says the long winter is causing the amount of manure to pile up.

"I know I've got a lot of extra manure to haul out this spring," Herrman said.

Finding somewhere to store all the manure, isn't always easy.

"Certainly some have storage that they can keep that in until conditions are more favorable. For others they may have to consider doing some stacking in safe locations until it breaks to avoid some of the days where we're having heavy rains or large snow melts," Huntzicker said.

The longer the frost stays though, the window of time to plant gets smaller and smaller.

"It pushes back maybe some of their planting, maybe some tillage operations if they're doing tillage as well, just reduces that window of time that producers have. It makes for longer hours longer days they're putting in to get that material out ahead of the planting season," Huntzicker said.

Herrman said he is fortunate because his land is pretty flat and mentioned farmers in the area deal with the high risk of run off every year so he doesn't expected an issues.

Experts say warmer temperatures and April showers will help get that frost out of the ground.

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