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New weekly weather outlook launches

Field Fodder: The Wisconsin Ag Climate Outlook provides relevant, up-to-date maps and information aimed at agriculture.

July 10, 2024

3 Min Read
looking down a row of corn at ground level
CLIMATE OUTLOOKS: Each week of the growing season and periodically during winter, a set of relevant maps and weather information will be compiled. FARM PROGRESS

by Natasha Paris

As I write this, we are under a flood watch in my area of Wisconsin — something that felt like a distant dream a year ago.

Only a couple of months ago, I was being asked how to prepare for a season of drought after a drier-than-average winter followed the intense drought of last summer. The drought was stubborn and held on in parts of the state until late May, as it took a large amount of recharge to recover.

May 2023 was the fourth driest May on record in Wisconsin, based on records going back to 1895. June 2023 followed as the fifth driest June on record. In cropping systems, the concerns were uneven emergence, herbicides not being activated, fertilizer not reaching plants, and lack of soil moisture for growth. Those who were studying nitrate leaching in fields didn’t get much data, if any, as no water was running through the soil profile.

May 2024, on the other hand, was the 10th wettest May on record in Wisconsin, and June 2024 was the 10th wettest June. We saw delayed planting, drowned-out plants, and concerns about runoff and leaching.

Last year, farmers and agriculture professionals relied heavily on resources from the USDA Drought Monitor, the National Weather Service and the Wisconsin State Climatology Office to help them make decisions and understand conditions as they were happening. While there is an abundance of information available, it is spread across several websites and agencies, making it sometimes difficult and overwhelming to stay on top of everything.

In conversations among state climatologist Steve Vavrus, Extension and the Natural Resources Conservation Service staff, and USDA Midwest Climate Hub personnel, it became apparent that a resource with up-to-date information as well as guidance aimed specifically at agriculture would be valuable.

Weekly climate outlook for ag

Thus, the Wisconsin Ag Climate Outlook was born. Dennis Todey, director of the USDA Midwest Climate Hub, had already been producing something similar for Iowa for a few years, and with the addition of Josh Bendorf and Bridgette Mason, who is also the assistant Wisconsin state climatologist, to the team, they have the capacity to help Wisconsin as well.

Each week of the growing season and periodically during winter, the team will compile a set of relevant maps and weather information with input from Vavrus; Kristin Foehringer, NRCS state working lands climate smart specialist; and myself.

The goal is to provide not only weather maps and tools relevant to agriculture, but also context and commentary from contributors about what various factors mean for agriculture and things to consider throughout the season. The Wisconsin Ag Climate Outlook will be uploaded to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension Crops and Soils website on Wednesdays. Past reports also will be archived there so readers can look back for reference and comparison.

We encourage you to bookmark this page so you can access the latest report quickly and easily. You also can sign up to receive the report via email each week when it is published. If you have questions or suggestions for how to improve this resource, please reach out. When you find yourself at a crossroads as to how to use this information to benefit your farm or business, contact your Extension crops educator.

Paris is the UW Extension regional crops educator for Green Lake, Marquette, Waushara and Adams counties.

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