Weather delays soybean planting across Wisconsin

CREATED May 21, 2014

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SHARON – The cold, dreary and wet spring is causing machinery to stand still at many farms in southeastern Wisconsin.  

“It’s just been difficult to get anything done,” Mike Cerny tells TODAY’S TMJ4’S Jesse Ritka.  Soybeans sit idly in Cerny’s row planter, waiting to be put into the soil. 

A task that hasn’t been easy with the weather this spring Mike explains, “It’s depressing when you have to sit in the house and watch it rain for a long period of time, knowing that you’ve got an awful lot of work to do and the amount of time that you have to do is decreasing all the time.”

And the clock is ticking for farmers, Cerny usually has all of his planting done by early May but 100 acres are still empty.  He’s not alone, only 8% of soybeans are planted across the entire state.  “We just can’t grow anything without sunshine and warmth,” the Sharon farmer say s.

Southeastern Wisconsin hasn’t had much of either until lately, so farmers are taking advantage and getting out in the fields again.  Though Cerny can only fertilize his wheat crop today since conditions aren’t quite right for putting the soybeans in the soil, “It was too wet to go plant this morning o hopefully this afternoon or tomorrow.”

But some farmers are running into a different problem: the colder temperatures and heavy rains have caused some of the soil to crust and get extremely hard in some parts of the state.  “If you can’t get a screwdriver into the ground, you can imagine a plant trying to push its way through the soil surface.  Some talk about having to re-plant the crop and we’re late already, now we’d have to start all over again,” Cerny explains.

Which may end up costing everyone if seasonable temps and the sunshine don’t stick around Mike adds, “We need that weather to help hold down food prices.” 

Corn and soybean products are a part of many items found in the grocery store, “The cattle industry, huge users of soybean meal, if that price of soybean meal goes up to them, it costs them more to produce the meat.”  So meat prices may increase along with other items, “The meal is used to feed the cattle, poultry, and hogs and the oil is used for cooking oil, salad dressing, lots and lots of items”

But farmers remain optimistic, “We can catch up and we can still have a really good crop but some of the real top end yield potential has been eliminated because of the lateness of the planting,” Cerny adds.

Mike hopes to have the rest of his fields planted by the end of the week thanks to the sunshine, warmer temperatures and this dry stretch.  Though after everything is planted, it’s still up to Mother Nature.