Wet planting conditions - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wet planting conditions

TOWN OF MILTON (WKOW) -- When it comes to growing crops, Milton farmer Ed Braun works a tight schedule. He has two months to grow and harvest his asparagus for the season. He already lost more than a week because of wet weather.

"We had a rough time getting in the fields, even with the truck and four-wheel drive. I was just getting stuck," he said.

Heavy spring rains pushed back planting and early harvesting. The fields are so saturated, even asparagus, a vegetable from the seaweed family, is at risk for root rot.

"It's just forced underneath the soil, and pushed up through the sand," Braun said. "We had too much rain last year and this year."

Then there's the late night freeze to worry about.

"Twenty-nine degrees is about the lowest it can stand. Once it freezes, then we have to go through the whole field and cut everything down."

"It begins to turn purple and it gets tougher, so that means I have to cut it further up the stem to get a good product," said Eleanor Braun. "We don't leave anything that isn't tender and nice and tastes good when we get it."

Other crops are behind schedule, too. Statewide, only 43 percent of corn, and 8 percent of soybeans are in the ground, according to Wisconsin Agriculture Statistics. On some farms, cropland literally turned into swampland. All some farmers can do is wait for it to drain.

"Our neighbor should be planted by now, half his field he can't plant. He's suffering," Braun said. "If he doesn't get his crop in in time, it may be too late."

Even though farmers are slightly behind schedule, it's nothing compared to last spring, when record flooding caused an estimated $300 to $400 million in crop damage.

E-mail Jeff Angileri -- jangileri@wkowtv.com

Current crop report: http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Wisconsin/Publications/Crop_Progress_&_Condition/2009/cwcurr.pdf


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