The hot moist weather of July that helped crop development close the gap on normal growing-degree-day totals has suddenly turned cool and dry. Crop conditions are beginning to show stress on the lighter more coarse soils in our area. Weather fronts that included nice rain totals to the north and south of us this past weekend bypassed us, dropping only a couple hundredths of an inch in our immediate area. The cooler temperatures have caused heavy evening dew and dense morning fog. Irrigation pivots have been running. The weather forecast is for continued dry weather with the best chances of future moisture listed at only about 30 percent. This spring that 30 percent would have been enough for a two- to three-hour rain, which we so badly need now.

Small-grain harvest, as limited as it is this year, is sporadic. Much of the small grains planted as a nurse crop to alfalfa seedings were harvested as forage to help supplement short alfalfa-forage supplies. I've seen some area acres of corn being harvested for forage. I expect their plan is to try and limit the ration shock by doing a more gradual transition from fermented silage to more fresh-cut silage in their dairy ration because supplies of stored forage are depleted.

The cool dry weather is telling on the later-planted corn that was pollinating the first week of August. Corn in those fields are still showing green silks on the ear and have a long way to go with next week moving into the first of September. Soybean plants appear to be supporting a large number of healthy three-bean pods at each plant node. But we need moisture to facilitate good bean fill.

Harvest of vegetable crops are progressing as expected. Many area potato fields have been or are currently being harvested. When traveling toward Bear Creek this past week, we met many trucks hauling freshly harvested cabbage to the processing plant.

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Don Lutz of Scandinavia, Wisconsin, is one of the Wisconsin representatives on the board of the American Soybean Association. He farms 1,350 acres in Waupaca and Portage counties with his brother and nephew, as well as finishes Holstein steers. Lutz is retired from the National Agricultural Statistics Service of Washington, D.C.