Slow start for crops: Cold, rainy weather forces farmers to delay planting

WESTBY, Wis. (WKBT) – Farmers say the weather has put them behind on their planting schedules, which could lead to supply issues later in the year. 

Third generation farmer Darin Von Ruden’s livelihood has always followed Mother Nature’s rules.

“If you don’t get your corn in by the fifth of May, you’re going to lose a bushel a day,” the Westby farmer said. “We’re at the 10th of May already.”

Farmers begin planting crops early to mid April. 

“You wanna see that ground temperature above 50 or close to it if you can,” he said. 

However, April was cooler than average. 

“We should be looking at 10 to 12 inches of growth on that and we’re only looking at 2 to 3 and that’s because of the cold weather,” Von Ruden said. 

Although some farmers had hope for the start of May, the weather had other plans. 

“Being as the crops aren’t in, it would’ve been nice to have the dry weather the first couple weeks of May,” Von Ruden said. 

Farmers are working around the clock to get their crops in, he said, adding that even now, some will have to wait. 

“We’re looking at maybe another five, six, maybe even seven days before a lot of guys can get into the fields if the weather stays the way it’s predicted right now,” Von Ruden said. 

Cold weather isn’t the only issue farmers are facing. 

“Right now, farmers are paying just about three times as much for a ton of fertilizer as what we were a year ago at this time,” he said. 

Fertilizer prices will be high for the next one to two years — or longer, Von Ruden said. 

“If the war in Ukraine lasts couple years, it could be four or five years even before we see that reduced price,” Von Ruden said. 

Both the weather and high fertilizer prices this season may result in a loss of 10 to 20 acres of Wisconsin’s corn and soybean crops per day. 

“That’ll affect the supply more than anything, every bushel’s going to count at the end of the year,” he said. 

Despite the late planting season, Von Ruden said it may still be a profitable year. 

“Usually, when crops are getting put in the ground late, crop prices stay and remain daily good throughout the year,” he said. 

And while the farming season isn’t off to a great start, Von Ruden said he and others continue to be hopeful. 

“Us farmers, if we didn’t have the weather to complain about I don’t know what we’d do. Well actually, we complain about the prices all the time too,” he said. 

Farmers should have a variety of crops this year, he said. Along with corn and soybean, Von Ruden said farmers should look into planting small grains because they will grow quicker. 

Farmers also can plant wheat because it will be in demand and requires less fertilizer, he said.

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