Wisconsin News

One-third of Wisconsin corn still not planted

WEST SALEM, Wis. - Wisconsin farmers are playing a waiting game thanks to this cold, rainy spring.

It's a complete shift from the drought farmers struggled with last summer.

West Salem farmer Ernie Hoffman still has about a quarter of his corn crop to plant.

"We've got about 40 acres to go yet," said Hoffman.

But it'll have to wait.

"Just don't work the ground when it's wet," said Hoffman. "You've just got to wait until it's dry enough to go."

As of Sunday, just 64 percent of Wisconsin's corn crop had been planted. By this time last year, the state had planted 93 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


"This is the latest we've ever been for planting corn. We'll end up running into June and that's just not normal," said Hoffman.

First, it was unseasonably cold spring weather. Now relentless rain is soaking the soil.

And Mother Nature's clock is ticking.

"A lot of the corn that we see planted around here is probably anywhere from that 95-day up to about 110-day corn. So we need that growing season, that number of days in order to get to full harvest. And so there's always that concern on the back end, of when is that first frost going to come and how long are we going to need?" said La Crosse County University of Wisconsin-Extension Agriculture Agent Steve Huntzicker.

A shorter growing season could mean higher prices and shortages at the grocery store.

"As a consumer, we're involved in agriculture every day, whether it's the products that we're taking off the shelf to eat or the meat off the meat counter," said Huntzicker.

In the meantime, all Hoffman can do is watch the sky and wait.

"Every day is costly, that's for sure, when we're getting this late in the year," said Hoffman.

Initially, record-setting harvests of corn were expected for this year because of high demand for livestock feed and ethanol. But Huntzicker said that all depends on whether that corn actually gets in the ground.

Huntzicker said the planting season could still turn around if the rain clears up, but it has to happen soon.

Out of a list of 18 states compiled by the USDA that make up a majority of the country's corn acreage, Wisconsin has the smallest percentage of its crop planted.

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