Wet spring slows seed spreading for farmers - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Wet spring slows seed spreading for farmers


Eau Claire (WQOW) - In some ways farming has bounced from one end of the spectrum to the other in a year. 

Last year farmers faced drought, this year the soaked soil has too much moisture to plant seeds.

"We're a good couple of weeks behind and when you look at it from a percentage, usually we have about 25-35% of our crop planted already and we're barely at 5-10%," says soil and agricultural educator for University of Wisconsin Extension, Jerry Clark.

So on this May day farmer's tractors sit idle waiting for sunshine to spread seed.

"Soybean takes a little bit less of a season to grow so that's a little more flexible.  The corn we try to grow as full of a season as we can," says farmer Pat Schaffer.

Right now corn is two and a half weeks behind the normal planting, push that back much longer and it could cause problems with yield in the field.

"Farmers, they're not going to be able to switch to shorter season crops now.  They're still going to plant a full season crop hoping we can get a full season out of it yet," says Clark.

"The stuff we can't get in it will just have to get left, seeing it's this late, it will just not have anything planted in it," says Schaffer.

The seeds that are sown this spring do have a big advantage going into the summer because they'll be well hydrated.

"Many rainfalls we end up losing some of that.  I think all of this will go into the ground.  Right now we're very fortunate that the subsoil has been replenished," says Clark.

Of course with every up comes a down.

"It will slow the harvest down because all that corn has to be dried and the wetter it is, the longer it takes to dry," says Schaffer.

Which costs farmers more to get their product to market, a feat becoming a unique challenge each year.

"These are basically night and day.  When you had early planting last year and still snow in May, I don't know that it can get any different than these two years," says Clark.

"This is average.  We have the warmest and then we're going to have the coldest, so that really, those two years just make average," says Schaffer.

Hay and Alfalfa are not recovering well from the winter and some farmers may have to re-plant their crops to provide feed for their cattle. 

Crops finding success in this weather include spring wheat and oats and barley.

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