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Wet spring meant late start for area farmers

Unusually wet and cold weather this spring culminating in an unprecedented May snowstorm set area farmers back for the latest growing season.

“It was a late spring…real late,” Pierce County Soil Conservationist Jon Krauss said Thursday.

Every farmer he’s talked to mentions the nearly foot-and-a-half of snow this vicinity got on May 2, Krauss said. Thereafter, it didn’t dry out and, consequently, some crops never went in the ground.

The early season conditions resulted in not getting all of his oats planted until the Fourth of July, the conservationist said. However, there was the advantage of realizing a quicker seed-to-harvest. His experience shows planting on April 1 in a normal year, for example, has led to a harvest in three-and-a-half months; yet, this year the cycle was completed in two-and-a-half months (top-of-July to mid-September).

“I’ve never combined oats in September before,” he said, mindful there are less and less days to the season at this point.

Another benefit in delaying planting materialized with hay density, he said. He found the straw was bigger than that planted when the ground was too wet. Unfortunately, the test weight was awfully light.

“It was a lot like feathers,” he said, noting many people are short on hay. He guessed regular square small bales were going for up to $7-to-$8 apiece last week.

In the spring, there was a lot of hay kill, he said. While some of the bigger area farmers recently had their fourth cut of hay, many others have just made the third cut. The second and third crops of alfalfa have been on the “light side,” he added, crediting the winterkill and the recent dry weather.

For more please read the Sept. 25 print version of the Herald.

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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