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Crop planting

Cold and wet weather continues to frustrate Wisconsin farmers eager to get crops planted, according to the weekly crop progress report.

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service report for the week ending May 5 said only 2.6 days out of 7.0 days were suitable for field work.

"Below normal temperatures and rain, overcast weather continued this week, allowing little improvement in soil conditions," the report said.

A report from Crawford and Grant counties said planters were pulled out of sheds on Saturday as the weather improved, but they went back into the sheds on Sunday when more rain fell.

A couple of dry periods did allow some farmers to start putting corn and oats in the ground as well as spreading manure, but many fields across the state are just too wet.

Farmers also are reporting winterkill of alfalfa, especially in low areas that flooded and froze.

"Alfalfa has suffered lots of winterkill," a Trempealeau County report said. "Doesn't seem to matter if it was first year planted or established stands."

As of May 5 spring tillage was 29% complete, 10 points higher than the previous week and a day ahead of last year, but six days behind the five-year average.

The corn crop was 7% planted, up three points from the previous week, four days behind last year and eight days behind the five-year average.

Oats were 29% planted, a day ahead of last year but nine days behind the average. 11% of oats had emerged, three days ahead of last year but six days behind the average.

Potatoes are 46% planted, 11 days ahead of last year but two days behind the average.

The winter wheat crop was rated 45% good to excellent, up a percentage point since last week.

Pasture land was rated 36% good to excellent, up four points from the previous week.

Soil moisture was in ample supply, rated at 100% adequate to surplus for both subsoil and topsoil.

The USDA said the winterkill of alfalfa estimates will be released May 20.

"Livestock producers were reportedly pasturing early and adjusting their cropping plans in anticipation of tight forage supplies," the report said.

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