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Sprinkles to buckets: Farm fields welcomed rain

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Gina Duwe
May 29, 2014

JANESVILLE--Arch Morton Jr. was starting to get a little worried when recent rains kept missing his farm fields southeast of Janesville.

Then Mother Nature dropped 3.5 inches of rain on his farm Tuesday.

“It's really good timing to get a good rain right now,” he said.

He finished planting soybeans Friday.

“It's really going to help those come up—not only to get going but to come up,” said Morton, who farms corn, soybeans, alfalfa and winter wheat in the towns of La Prairie and Harmony. “The ground was starting to get dry.”

Tuesday's hit or miss storms delivered 1.65 inches of rain at the Janesville Wastewater Treatment Plant while the National Weather Service reported readings of only 0.05 inches in Milton and 0.5 inches at Beloit College.

Morton's neighbor got 4 inches while a neighbor two miles away only got 2 inches, he said.

“It's very common in summer thunderstorms that some people get a lot of rain if they're right under the cell but places even a mile or two away don't get nearly that much,” said Bob McMahon, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sullivan.

Parts of Dane and Rock counties saw more than a couple inches of rain while the Dane County Regional Airport's 1.46 inches set a record for the day, McMahon said. Walworth County reports ranged from 0.23 inches in Delavan to .03 inches in Elkhorn and Lake Geneva.

Precipitation in the Madison area was only slightly below normal before the storms, McMahon said. The 11.75 inches for the year is 0.43 inches above normal, he said.

“With the cold weather and the frost being in the ground, farmers want to work the fields,” he said. “If you have crops in, rain is good. If you haven't gotten them in and the fields are wet, you can't work them, and that's not good.”

The showers left some standing water in Morton's fields, and it was still too wet for him to check out Wednesday, he said.

Pleasant, sunny weather over the next few days will help dry any standing water in fields, McMahon said. The forecast calls for a high of 77 today and the low 80s Friday and Saturday, with no rain until Saturday night or Sunday.

The timing of Tuesday's showers was key, Morton said. Before the rain, the extended forecast didn't look promising, he said.

“For most everybody, they'll say it was a really good rain,” he said.

Farmers are better off getting an inch of rain, then more a few days later, he said.

“But you can't always get it exactly when you want it,” he said.



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