Welcome everyone as I try to summarize events occurring in central and northeast Wisconsin. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss a few of the activities going on in our area of Wisconsin.
Much of the snow in the open fields has disappeared. But remnants of the snow banks remain, created while plowing to keep the winter roads open. I commented the other day that I had never seen so many road signs and mailboxes taken out by plowing crews as I did this year. Also remnants of large snow drifts are waiting for a warm rain to finish the melt — especially on the north side of wooded areas or heavy fence lines where they receive limited direct sun.
With this past year’s wet October and quick freeze after that, many farmers with manure storage are anxious to be moving in the field this spring. Those soft areas around melting snow have kept them on the sideline for now. But the pressure will mount to be going soon.
The potato and vegetable farmers will be in the fields first. I think the snow cover was lighter south of Stevens Point; the light soils give them that advantage in the spring.
Much of the farmer discussion nowadays is about farm markets. It’s not just the tariffs on soybeans but also the dairy prices in Wisconsin. The dairy industry is facing a situation where we’ve created an efficient ration, and employed equipment and technology. Those improvements almost ensure the harvest of excellent-quality feed in combination with outstanding genetics. I don’t see a natural correction coming.
I attended a meeting at Commodity Classic where the U.S. Department of Agriculture lead on crafting the dairy program specifics for the Farm Bill gave an overview.
After his presentation I asked the question, “What is the government’s end game in this program? The dairy industry has taken on the look of the early poultry industry, then the hog industry, and now dairy is falling into this model as well. What are we expecting to happen that we know won’t happen?”
He humorously but seriously responded, “Next question, please.”
I grew up on a dairy farm and have a tremendous appreciation for the difficult work, closeness to nature, and the self-esteem and character building it gives children and young adults, which is so needed today.
Several farmers have mentioned attending this past week’s WPS Farm Show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. On the day I attended the weather teased us with some warmer temperatures. But the wind and cloudy skies made it feel raw; it’s difficult to shake that spring cold.
During the next two weeks scouting should include evaluating winter damage in forage stands as well as the condition of the winter-wheat crop. Alfalfa stands that appear good could still incur damage under weather conditions. If there are issues that are unfamiliar or concerning, check with agronomists. They spend a lot of time in the field. They begin to see a pattern of problems, know what probably is causing the conditions and can give advice on the best options.
Farm-input dealers and co-operatives look to finish seed deliveries ahead of the rush to begin applying commercial fertilizers. Cheer up. A couple of warm sunny days will have everyone back in the mood to hurry and start participating in activities again.