Farmers’ crops struggling with lack of rain

Dry weather takes toll on corn crops
Farmers’ crops struggling with lack of rain

With just 0.3 inches of rain in the month of June in Madison, some are wondering if the area could be headed toward a drought.

Some area farmers said their crops can’t take much more dry weather.

The season started with optimism, with mild temperatures early on giving farmers an opportunity to plant ahead of schedule. But, farmers said the problem is that dry conditions came several weeks early as well.

At Chris Davis’ farm, corn crops are holding out for any sign of moisture.

“If it continues like this, you will start seeing some brown leaves,” said Chris Evans, who works at the farm. “And once you start seeing the leaves, it’s really going to start cutting down. I don’t think it will kill the plants. But it may if we continue with no rain.”

On top of that, Davis’ crops are in Wisconsin Dells, where sandstone is common for soil.

“And if you look at this, see how this falls right apart?” said Evans, crumbling the soil in his hands. “It’s real crumbly, and when you have water that goes through this, it kind of filters right down through it. There’s nothing that really holds it together.”

Davis said this plot averages 160 bushels of corn. Without any rain soon, he said he would be surprised to get half that much.

Experts said reverse yields are a reality at farms around the state.

“At this point, on corn, especially, there’s definitely some yield hit going on,” said Lee Jennings, University of Wisconsin Extension crops and soils educator. “The corn tends to create the number of kernels, potential kernels, on the ear at this point. And with the water stress, there’s going to be fewer of those, so yields are more limited.”


It’s a crop Davis had high hopes for early on. The Wisconsin Dells farmer said he sees irony in the situation.

“It is kind of funny. We are the ‘Water Park Capital of the World’, but we can’t get enough water out on the land,” Davis said.

Meanwhile, the state’s climatology office said that if the city of Madison’s rain total doesn’t double by the end of the month, the city could break a precipitation record low dating back to 1869.