MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin is the midst of a nearly perfect growing season, which could drive crop prices down, agricultural experts say.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service has ranked Wisconsin's corn and soybean crops tops among the nation's corn and soybean-growing states for having the highest percentage in excellent condition, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Sunday.
As of July 31, 39 percent of the state's corn was in excellent condition, 13 percentage points higher than second-place Illinois. Thirty-five percent of Wisconsin soybeans were in excellent condition, 9 percent higher than second-place Tennessee.
Wisconsin also leads the country with the highest percentage of corn and soybeans in either good or excellent condition, according to NASS data.
Agricultural specialists credit an early start to the growing season, timely rain, seasonal temperatures, low insect counts and little disease. Below-normal rainfall in May around Madison, for example, allowed farmers to complete planting early. Precipitation was just below an inch above normal in June and just over an inch above normal in July, creating abundant moisture in the soil that fueled crops' growth.
"This is the year of all years, I guess," said Stan McGraw, an agronomist with VitaPlus, a Madison-based livestock feed company. "We all strive to have crops look like this. It appears that Mother Nature worked with us and we have some great crops coming."
Therein lies the downside. Anticipated record yields have led to lower future prices. The corn future price for delivery in December dropped to $3.34 on Aug. 1 after reaching $4.48 in June. Soybean future prices for delivery in November dropped to $9.65 after hitting $11.86 in June.
"There's an abundance of everything," said Jeff Grindle of Single Oak Farms in the town of Primrose.
A third of the growing season still remains, however. One bad thunderstorm with large hail can destroy a portion of one of the state's crops. Hot and dry weather also can shut down a growing season, too.
But the National Weather Service's three-month forecast is calling for more good weather, with warmer temperatures and equal chances for rain.