Area's corn crop could be total loss

2012-07-13T06:15:00Z 2013-07-18T12:52:37Z Area's corn crop could be total lossROB SCHULTZ | Wisconsin State Journal | | 608-252-6487

As the drought in southern Wisconsin was re-classified as severe Thursday, much of the area's corn crop could be lost if significant rain doesn't fall here in the next seven days.

And it looks like neither Mother Nature nor Uncle Sam are going to help.

"It's pretty dire," said Landmark Services Cooperative agronomist Joe Speich, who estimated 2 to 3 inches of rain was needed in the next week to salvage southern Wisconsin's corn. Just 0.31 inches of rain has fallen since June 1, and the National Weather Service forecasts no drought-busting rains in the next week, although there is a 50 percent chance for showers and thunderstorms Friday and Saturday.

Speich said the lack of moisture has shut down the field corn's pollination process in the critical 10 days after it tassels.

"If it doesn't pollinate, there's no ear," Speich added. "That's the reason it can become a total loss. You've got that 10-day window and that's it."

Farmers without crop insurance are learning they have little chance of receiving any financial help because federal provisions for drought relief expired last year.

UW-Madison agriculture economist Paul Mitchell estimates about 31 percent of the state's corn acreage is not insured.

That includes 900 acres of field corn and 400 acres of sweet corn farmed on land near Beloit and Albany by Harvey Kopp, who said his losses could climb above $750,000 if it doesn't rain soon.

Kopp, 72, who got into the farming business 17 years ago after retiring from the insurance business, obviously knows the dangers of not having crop insurance. "I knew one of these years I was going to get my (expletive) burned," Kopp said. "I guess this is the year."

Farmers with crop insurance have been talking with experts to figure out how much damage their policies will cover. On Thursday, some 125 farmers met with crop insurance, other financial and ag specialists in Albany to learn about their few options. Another meeting was Thursday night in Monroe.

Hot, dry growing season

The severe drought designation is the first for this area since 2005, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Denny VanCleve.

It has the potential to create a big economic dent. Severe drought conditions cover less than 17 percent of the state, but that area produces a third of the state's corn, said Bob Oleson, the executive director of the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association.

This drought has the potential to be worse economically than the disastrous 1988 drought that gripped much of the state, said Bruce Jones, an agricultural economics professor at UW-Madison, though farmers with crop insurance will be able to at least recoup their costs.

"You never want to deal with something like this, but I'd say we're probably in a better situation thanks to the insurance purchased by the farmers than when we were kind of rolling the dice hoping for disaster response from Washington," Jones said.

Consumers will be affected, too. After livestock producers run out of feed because of the drought, they'll send their hogs and cows to market because they can't afford to feed them, Jones said. That will drive meat prices down initially but they'll rise later, along with milk prices, because of the resulting livestock shortage.

"This is a loss that is built into the system," Jones said. "The real strains in the short run will be felt by the farmers, but as we start to see reduced supplies of food products, we'll see higher food prices and that will take a pinch out of our disposable income. We'll bear some of that cost."

Looking for help

Not all crops are doing poorly. Speich said the recent wheat harvest was good and soybeans are doing surprisingly well.

But farmers aren't expecting to get any more cuts of hay. "It's dangerous for us to be out in the hayfields because it's so dry," Speich said. "There have been a lot of fires sparked by haybines."

VanCleve said there's a chance for rain in the area Saturday in the form of scattered thunderstorms, but "we're not expecting significant rainfall at all."

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi sent a letter of Gov. Scott Walker Thursday urging him to expedite a federal disaster declaration for the county that he said will allow farmers to access assistance.

But Heather Golz, a Badgerland Financial crop insurance specialist who spearheaded Thursday's meetings with farmers in Albany and Monroe, wasn't optimistic that farmers without crop insurance would be able to get financial help.

"Last I heard there wasn't any funding because the 2000 farm bill expired and the new farm bill hasn't been written yet," she said. "From what I heard as of this morning, there wasn't any funding for anything" for farmers without crop insurance.

That wasn't good news for Kopp. "I guess life will probably go on for me," he said. "It may not be as easy. But I will struggle through it, I guess."

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(20) Comments

  1. folklohr
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    folklohr - July 26, 2012 4:13 pm
    So it rained within the 7 davs. Good for you all.
  2. racedog48
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    racedog48 - July 15, 2012 11:01 pm
    Ok the republicans passed a bill. But then why didn't obama veto it? So let's get real and put the blame where it belongs obama.
  3. srwspoon
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    srwspoon - July 15, 2012 9:08 pm
    Wis_taxpayer said, "'s not Obama that block bills or passes them, he can only sign them into law or veto them."

    I wish everyone could apply that same truthful principle to politics in the State of Wisconsin, because it is the exact same truth here, it always has been.
  4. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - July 15, 2012 7:22 pm
    Racedog, go back and look at the congressional voting record and you will see that it was the Republicans that blocked the extension of that bill, not the Democrats. Again you have a false argument. oh, and it's not Obama that block bills or passes them, he can only sign them into law or veto them.
  5. hardworkingfarmer
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    hardworkingfarmer - July 14, 2012 9:38 am
    Just so all of you know, this pity party that harvey kopp is trying to get started is just comical. he has OVER 1 MILLION DOLLARS in his bank accounts and is NOT going to be affected by this drought. funny how he doesnt even mention the acreage he has irrigation on, OR the hundreds of acres that he took a plentiful wheat crop off just this month. he is a slime and selfish and will rot in hell for all the dirty things he has done and people that he has tried to "help" over the years.

    this is just karma getting even with him by burning his crops just as he has done to others.

    also it wouldnt suprise me if the bastard has insurance and is just looking for attention!!!!!!!!!!
  6. TheJudoon
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    TheJudoon - July 13, 2012 1:49 pm
    Well, you know this tea-publican administration doesn't really want farmers getting federal assistance. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, and all that.
    Thank goodness farmers have the Dane County exec to explain to folks what the governor needs to do to actually help the citizens of this state.
    There may be a bunch of farmers out there sharpening the tines in their pitchforks once they realize it's more empty promises and lies coming from their esteemed gov-na. And after they let him put up all those huge signs in their farm fields, too. It's a shame.
  7. fluteplayer
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    fluteplayer - July 13, 2012 1:33 pm
    By the way, the governor's declaration of a state of emergency does nothing with respect to federal disaster relief, as Joe Parisi has now pointed out to him. Governor Walker needs to REQUEST federal disaster relief, and could have done so earlier. See:
  8. fluteplayer
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    fluteplayer - July 13, 2012 1:30 pm
    @racedog -- the fact that the farm bill hasn't been written is not Obama's fault. Lay it on your friends in the Republican-led House who have spent countless millions in taxpayer resources on their Tea Party efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act -- 33 times!!! They really DO have better things to do! Lay the blame on people like Mitch McConnell, whose sole mission as Senate Minority Leader has been to defeat Obama in 2012, not to behave as a responsible legislator and actually help make the country work.

    The President has reached across the aisle and been more than accommodating in trying to get the country moving again. But the Republicans have refused to work with him.

    Now, I know you won't like the source, but you should give this a read: Dan Rather's take on Norman Ornstein andThomas Mann's recent book on partisanship. (It's covered in the Huffington Post because, as Ornstein and Mann note, the topic is too hot for the mainstream press to handle. So much for MSM being left-leaning.)
  9. Griper
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    Griper - July 13, 2012 12:32 pm
    Just like a liberal to muddy the issue with facts. Everyone knows that reality has a liberal bias.
  10. Griper
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    Griper - July 13, 2012 12:30 pm
    Let's all take a moment to pat ourselves on the back over all the money we're saving pretending that global warming doesn't exist.
  11. people first
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    people first - July 13, 2012 11:27 am
    Yes, its obamas fault. Who is it that wants to stop all gov. handouts? Its the tea party. If you dont believe in our drastic climate change and want to deny any man made polluting of our world that is fine. The earth is only 6000 years old and we ran with the dinosaurs. Its gods will and there is nothing we can do about it. Just make profits and screw everything else. Go to church on sunday, screw your secretary on monday and screw your fellow man the rest of the week. Repeat.
  12. Maninthemiddle
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    Maninthemiddle - July 13, 2012 10:47 am
    An ex-insurance agent who didn't buy crop insurance? Hmmmmmm.
  13. YankeeBubba
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    YankeeBubba - July 13, 2012 8:30 am
    Alarmists want airbrushed (more like sand-blasted) the record cold and record snowfall from the last few years. Contact CLIMATE CRIMINAL Dr. James Hansen and his enabler NASA/GISS and the can go back and unilaterally adjust downward past temperature records...AGAIN!

    CLMATE CRIMINAL Dr. Michael Mann is still fighting the release of taxpayer-funded emails from his time at UVA. Academic freedom did not get extended to Dr. Patrick Michaels at the same institution; please explain.

    The Alarmists are emboldened because they think ClimateGate I & II are beyond the rear-view mirror. The environoiacs that push CATASTROPHIC ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING that is here and worse than the models predicted arrogantly believe they can bend climate to their whim.

    We need Climate Justice; redistributing $ from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. The islands in the Maldives that are supposed to be falling beneath the surf? They still found a way to shakedown some ecogogues to give them a half a BILLION $. Did they use it for relocating anyone? Nope; they built a brand new championship 18 hole golf course near a new airport.

    The airport is specially designed for 'fly-in' golfers. Yeah, that sounds like a country that is concerned about sinking under the waves to me. But I'll wait to hear from Fat Albert.
  14. racedog48
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    racedog48 - July 13, 2012 8:29 am
    "Farmers without crop insurance are learning they have little chance of receiving any financial help because federal provisions for drought relief expired last year."

    Hard working middle class farmers screwed by obama
  15. middleclassmd
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    middleclassmd - July 13, 2012 8:23 am
    Come on, its not that hot or dry it's just liberal meteorology!
  16. mhazzard
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    mhazzard - July 13, 2012 7:48 am
    I am not a "ista" anything and there are no glaciers in Glacier National Park...
  17. r3VOLutionary
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    r3VOLutionary - July 13, 2012 7:02 am
    It's never surprising anymore how many anti-Walker-istas are supporters of the of the fading theory of Global Warming. Here's another nail in its coffin.

    Tree-rings prove climate was WARMER in Roman and Medieval times than it is now - and world has been cooling for 2,000 years

    "Lead author Professor Dr Jan Esper of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz said: ‘We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low.

    ‘This figure we calculated may not seem particularly significant, however it is not negligible when compared to global warming, which up to now has been less than 1 deg C.’

    In general the scientists found a slow cooling of 0.6C over 2,000 years, which they attributed to changes in the Earth’s orbit which took it further away from the Sun."

    So, find a new boogeyman.
  18. Liberty Samurai
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    Liberty Samurai - July 13, 2012 6:46 am
    The area discussed in the article was once covered by a glacier, which I'm pretty sure went away before I bought my SUV. The only info proven to be propaganda in this debate comes from you enviro-statists. (the "hockey stick").

    We deny man made global warming. The globe has warmed, and cooled, many times over.
  19. sswwmas
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    sswwmas - July 13, 2012 6:35 am
    Don't start to confuse "weather" with "climate". Tell me how 2008 worked out for those in the flood plains or the summer of 2009 worked out for those who actually wanted a summer. Blaming one year of weather on "climate" is extremely short-sighted. Global climate change is certainly happening, but let's call this what it is - a bad WEATHER pattern. One of the hottest and driest summers on record occurred in the 1890s...
  20. mhazzard
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    mhazzard - July 13, 2012 6:22 am
    How's that Global Warming denial propaganda working out for you Walker supporters...
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