Southern Wisconsin drought now "severe" - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Southern Wisconsin drought now "severe"

EVANSVILLE (WKOW) -- Farmers across the Midwest are trying to find ways to salvage what is left of their crops.

 "It is whole fields that are gone now already," says Jamie Larson, crops and maintenance manager at Larson Acres near Evansville.

He says they normally wouldn't be harvesting corn until September, but the severe drought has changed his plans.

"Being here in the middle of July is a first to be started so early."

Because it's a dairy farm, they can salvage some of their corn and use it for feed for their cows, but he says they're still taking a hit.

"We're going to have to buy feed that we normally wouldn't have to. We have money invested in these crops and we're only getting half what we should," Larson says.

A severe drought is now spread across 18 counties, including Dane, Rock and Columbia.

It's happening as corn crops are coming up on the pollination stage when rain and soil moisture are most critical.

And crop insurance agents are hearing about it from their clients.

"Our phones have been running pretty much off the hook for the last three weeks," says Michelle Austin, director of insurance services at Badgerland Financial.

She says stay in close contact with your agent so you don't make a wrong move that could affect your claim.

"Destroying crops without having an adjustor, not keeping proper records after it is harvested--those are probably the two main things we see that can affect losses," Austin says.

Farmers had to sign up for insurance by March 15.

Larson is one of the lucky ones who did.

"You plan to have it for years like this. You hope you never have to use it but it's definitely a lifesaver in years like this," Larson says.

He says he probably invests about $500-$600 per acre, making covering those costs very important.


MADISON (WKOW) -- Meteorologists say most of southern Wisconsin is now in a severe drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows most of southern Wisconsin now in the severe category. In our area, that includes all of Dane, Iowa, Green, Rock, Lafayette, Jefferson and Walworth counties and parts of Columbia, Sauk, Dodge, and Richland counties.

More than half of the state is now at least abnormally dry.

27 Storm Track Meteorologist Brian Olson says there is a very slight chance of rain over the next few days. Click here to watch Brian's forecast.

Emergency burning restrictions have been in effect for several southern Wisconsin counties since Friday, June 29. For more information on the burning restrictions, click here.

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