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USA - Northwest Wisconsin is on the cusp of drought conditions

Crops are digging deeper to find moisture in soil profiles as northwest Wisconsin is inching closer to drought conditions.

“Shallow rooted systems, some like soybeans, will start to show some stress relatively soon if it doesn’t rain simply because the root system is a little bit more shallow,” said Jerry Clark, agriculture agent with the UW-Madison Extension of Chippewa County.

According to local farmers, a reduction shallow crop production could cause financial distress.

“Hay or corn or soybeans, they all cost about the same input whether or not mother nature cooperates. I still pay the same for fertilizer to drive across those fields to cut the hay, so when you get a lot less of the product, it essentially raises the cost production and makes it harder for me financially,” said Jeff Peck, owner of Peck’s Farm.

And for a farm like Peck’s Dairy Farm, failure to yield a shallow crop like alfalfa creates a negative reaction on the dairy side.

“It stinks being a dairy and crop guy right now, because I’m losing potential income on the crop side, and I’m having to pay for it on the dairy side,” Peck said.

Peck took planting precautions in case of a drought this season.

“I did buy some drought variety corn on my lighter crop. I tried to do no-till farming, which basically leaves corn residue on top for the next crop because that holds moisture and suppresses weeds.”

But if the crop doesn’t yield, neither does the money.

“The prices of crops are above average, and it sure would be nice for me as a farmer to be able to have a good crop and a good price at the same time. If you don’t have a good crop, you don’t have anything to sell. The price can be as high as it wants, but if you can’t grow it, it doesn’t mean a whole lot to me,” said Peck.

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