How this winter is affecting farmers

The crazy weather this winter is having an impact on many local farmers.

All of the rain and snow has some farmers worrying about flooding and how a fast thaw could hurt their crop yields this summer.

Things are even worse for the maple syrup industry.

Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden said it’s the worst it has been in more than 15 years.

“It’s been a rough month of March here so far,” Von Ruden said.

Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden said cold weather has maple syrup farmers in a bit of a sticky situation.

“The last three or four years, the maple syrup season is kind of drawing to a close at this time of the year, and this year a lot of guys are just starting to tap,” Von Ruden said.

In order to tap into something great, farmers need warm weather and sun.

Normally by this time of year, syrup would be pouring out.

“If it was a nice sunny day and in the mid-40s, we’d probably see some sap coming out through there already, but it’s cold enough that it’s not running at all,” Von Ruden said.

On top of the cold, Von Ruden said all of this snow could be a big problem in the future.

“This is the latest that we’ve seen this much snow in quite a few years. And they’re still talking we could see more yet before the end of March,” Von Ruden said.

If it thaws too fast, Von Ruden said it could lead to flooding and the moisture from that water won’t make it down to the sub soil, which will hurt crop growth.

“If we go into a summer with not as much moisture and subsoil’s as we need then that effects the crops towards their pollination time and then ultimately the yields are going to be down,” Von Ruden said.

Kaitlyn Lance, an agriculture agent with UW-Extension La Crosse County, said, “It could delay them for a month, it just kind of depends on where they’re at. If they’re on top of a ridge they might have a little bit more of an advantage of things drying out. If you’re in a lower sandier area that water will just kind of go through, clay it has a tendency to just kind of hold it in.”

Despite the cold, snow and rain, with a little luck and sun Von Ruden said it could still be a great year.

“As farmers we always adjust to what Mother Nature throws at us. If we get a slower thaw and plenty of sunshine there still could be plenty of maple sap for that maple syrup process,” Von Ruden said.

Von Ruden said farmers will know a lot more in around a month.

He said many farmers try and have their crops planted by May first.

If they get delayed a couple weeks after that then crop yields will most likely be smaller.

Right now, Von Ruden thinks farmers could be delayed around a couple of weeks for planting crops, but he said that may increase.

When it comes to maple syrup, he estimates things are about a month behind schedule.

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