These next few weeks are crucial for farmers in Southern Wisconsin who are desperately waiting for rain. Fourteen southern Wisconsin counties are now officially in a moderate drought.
Matt Ruark is an Assistant Professor of Soil Science at the UW-Madison. While it could be make or break for the corn crop these coming weeks, he says for some vegetable farmers who are able to water, the situation is not quite as dire. "For the irrigated crops I think we're going to be in good shape," he says. "I think for those that have really kept up with like potato and sweet corn I think we're going to have an excellent crops because that heat has been beneficial. For the specialty crops I've seen a lot of loss due to issues like lots of end rot on tomato and peppers. So there are some severe losses in the fresh market fields."
Ruark says that many growers are simply not able to keep up with water demands, and that's leading to problems like poor fruit development. The USDA is classifying southern Wisconsin as being abnormally dry while the southern third is in a moderate drought. Yesterday, Governor Scott Walker declared a drought emergency for 42 Wisconsin counties.