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2013 Weather showed extremes: cold, wet, then dry and wild

Rich Kremer, Wisconsin Public Radio

2013 was a year of weather extremes in Wisconsin, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

It was a year that had farmers across the state playing catch up with the weather. First winter wouldn't let go, causing alfalfa and hay fields to be killed by the cold. Then farmers had to deal with one of the wettest springs on record. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, April was the fourth wettest month since 1895. May wasn't much better, being the 12th wettest on record.

Greg Bussler is the State Statistician with the USDA.

“In the beginning of the year it was extremely wet and cool, and that kept them from getting in the fields so there was a rush to get the crop in,” he said.

In southern Wisconsin, in fact, more rain fell in April, May and June than in all of 2012. Mark Hagedorn is the Agriculture Agent for Eau Claire County UW-Extension. He says farm fields across the state were soaked and many farmers were about three weeks to a month behind schedule getting their crops in the ground. Then, the rain stopped in July.

Hagedorn says it was a one-two punch.

“On the books, if you just took a look at how much rain you had during the year you wouldn't think it was an issue but the spigot turned off for such a long period of time between June and August,” he said.

Hagedorn says with such extreme weather, crops planted in sandier soils were hit harder by the drought.