Janesville57.4°

Cool summer slowing crops

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ANN MARIE AMES
July 18, 2009
— In late June, southern Wisconsin faced near record-high temperatures.

For several days, we sweated and wondered if the stretch was a harbinger of a hot, sultry summer.


Now, our high temperatures are pushing record lows.


Confused?


You are not alone.


The Gazette has been tracking daily high and low temperatures since 1929.


In that time, the lowest “high” for July 17 was 74 degrees. That was in 1958.


We beat that by 10 degrees Friday, when the high reached only 64.


Since the beginning of the year, daily high temperatures in Janesville have been below normal more often than not:


--In the 199 days since Jan. 1, the high temperature has been below average 124 days, or 62 percent of the days.


--In the 78 days since May 1, the high temperature has been below average 53 days, or 68 percent of the days.


--In the 47 days since June 1, the high temperature has been below average 35 days, or 74 percent of the days.


That’s had an impact on field crops around the state, said UW-Extension crops agent Jim Stute.


“Everything’s behind,” Stute said.


Local corn, winter wheat and alfalfa are growing slowly, although they look “surprisingly good” for the weather, he said.


Confused?


Stute’s seemingly contradictory statement is farmer talk for: “No matter how good or bad the weather is, I’m going to complain about it, then admit I can’t do anything about it, then be grateful I’m even here to see the weather.”


In case you want a second indicator of the local lack of heat units, look at the insects, Stute said.


Pests, including Japanese beetles, are slow getting started.


“We’ve seen very few insect pests,” Stute said. “Japanese beetles are just getting going. That tells you everything’s behind. Their development is driven by heat units, too.”



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