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Crop news is good for Rock County farmers

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Catherine W. Idzerda
January 3, 2012
— It’s difficult to think about summer with the wind picking up, the temperature plunging and snow finally starting to fall.

But last week, the USDA’s national agriculture statistics service released its year-end reports for Wisconsin and the nation.


It turns out that despite the late, cold start to spring, a long dry spell and other weather vagaries, local farmers had a good year.


“It was a surprisingly good year,” said Jim Stute, UW Extension crops and soils agent for Rock County. “There were a lot of stressors during the growing season.”


In spring, “it rained a lot, but we didn’t get a lot of rain,” Stute said.


It rained enough to to keep the fields too wet to work in but not enough to make a significant difference in soil moisture. When the farmers finally got into their fields, the stored moisture was used up quickly, Stute said.


Statewide, April’s rainfall was almost about an inch above average. Locally, dry fields in June and early July turned out to be a blessing in disguise.


When a windstorm went through the county in July, fields that were dry recovered better than those that had been irrigated, Stute said.


Healthy, well-watered plants tended to snap at the base.


In addition, the prolonged dry spell ended just when the corn was starting to pollinate, helping crops in much of the county.


All of that was followed by a picture-perfect fall, Stute said.


The season is reflected in the numbers.


In Wisconsin,


-More than 3.28 million acres of corn were harvested in 2011. That’s up from 3.10 million in 2010. In June 2011, corn was at $6.60 a bushel, up from 2010’s average of $5.35 per bushel.


-More than 1.65 million acres of soybeans were harvested. That’s up from 1.63 million acres in 2010. In June 2011, soybeans were at $12.80 a bushel, up from 2010’s average of $11.40 per bushel.



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