FOX47 NEWS - Corn Crop Crunch

Jeff Angileri
Sep 1, 2008, 10:17 PM

The woes facing Wisconsin farmers can be heard in the symphony of dry, rustling corn stalks.

It'll just be a muffle, now it's quite pronounced, said Farmer Bill Hanson. At this time of the year we shouldn't have the rustle of the leaves yet.

Only one inch of rain in two months parched Hanson's corn crop. Cool nights stunted growth even more.

Corn grows until about 55 to 60 degrees and then it quits growing, said Hanson.

This summer's weather made farming outside of Dodgeville downright brutal - floods in June, drought in August.

We've gone from one extreme to the other. A perfect storm type of thing, said Hanson.

The conditions have left Hanson's soybeans half their usual height.

Our soybeans there - they should still be vibrant green, and they're turning brown. They're just quitting.

Geography works against them as well.

In Iowa county, we have a lot of thin soil, so it can really change in a hurry, Hanson said.

The cost of doing business is changing even faster. Hanson estimates production costs will jump 80 percent in two years. He's using other farming techniques to cut costs, but for the one variable he can't control, he's looking to the skies.

You're kind of at the mercy of the weather, he said.

Even if farmers get enough rainfall in time to salvage the fall harvest, they face other potential problems. Among them, windstorms. The crop roots are weak this year, because of flooding. A strong gust of wind could literally flatten the corn.

The other threat - an early freeze. The average first freeze is September 30th.

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