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Local, state crop progress back to normal after slow start

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(WLUK) -- In case you needed reminding, much of this spring hasn't exactly looked like spring.

That late-season snow combined with a wet start to May kept farmers out of their fields at a time when they would have liked to be planting crops.

Ah, but what a difference a few weeks can make.

"I don't know what words I would have used (if I was told on May 1 that on May 30 we'd be caught up), I would have been very surprised coming out of however many inches of snow that we had early this spring. There was a lot of apprehension among farmers but I think everybody's feeling a lot better this week," said Barry Bubolz, who works with area farmers as part of his job with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, itself part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

And this turnaround has really happened over just the last week and change.

For the week leading up to May 20, just 18 percent of soybeans and 33 percent of corn had been planted in Northeast Wisconsin. But in the week leading up to May 27, those figures jumped to 51 percent of soybeans and 76 percent of corn.

And our state-wide figures had also come up to being in-line with our five-year averages.

The biggest change was finally drying out. The last 14 days, most of the eastern two-thirds of the state has been running a one- to two-inch rain deficit. And with the fields finally dry, farmers could finally get to planting.

And our record-setting heat over Memorial Day Weekend was a big help, too.

Tom Vande Wettering is the co-owner of Vande Wettering Farms in Greenleaf, and says the progress lately has been remarkable.

"It's amazing what seven days. Within a number of days, we had 90 percent of our crops in the ground and seen germination and the crops come out of the ground within five, six days."

And so a season unlike any in recent memory seems to be settling into a more familiar pattern, according to Vande Wettering.

"Nature always has a way of working out and we've been out here for along time and it all averages out."

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