MARIBEL, Wis. — Michael Slattery said when he was younger, a day on the farm was a full day on the farm. 

“I’d start out at five in the morning, and I’d go till midnight or one o'clock,” Slattery sad. 

What You Need To Know

  • The USDA and National Agricultural Statistics Service say Wisconsin’s spring planting season is slightly behind 2020’s pace

  • 2021’s pace is above the five year average

  • Michael Slattery, a Maribel, Wisconsin farmer, said the colder spring is to blame for some delays

Slattery said now that he’s older, his days have gotten shorter, ending now around 8:00 or 9:00 p.m.

There’s still a lot of work to be done. 

“So, what I’m doing now, is, I’m drilling clover,” Slattery said as he worked on his farm Sunday. 

Slattery is running an experiment, drilling clover in as a cover crop across half of his field. 

“Then, I’m going to come in, and I’m going to plant corn over this,” Slattery said.

He planted about 70 acres of corn so far this year, which he turns and sells as grain later in the season. 

“I’ll have 15 acres of corn left to plant after this on another farm that I rent,” Slattery said. 

He plants several different crops every year and being able to plant as early as possible in Wisconsin, especially corn and soybeans, is critical. 

“The greater the growth period, you increase the probability of your yield,” Slattery said. 

That means farmers will make more money. 

The problem this year is this spring has been a bit cold, which kept the soil temperature low. 

Things just haven’t started to grow. 

“If you look around, if you drive the country roads, you won’t see a corn, you won’t see soybeans out of the ground yet, simply because it’s too cold,” Slattery said. 

If the corn or soybean seeds are in the ground too long not growing, Slattery said they’ll start to rot. 

The good news, according to Slattery, is that he is planting in early May. 

Two years ago? 

“I wasn’t even planting in May,” exclaimed Slattery. 

While he said he can’t control the weather, Slattery gave some advice for farmers who might be struggling with their spring planting season when it comes to soil. 

"Take this [bit of soil], now if I drop this, and it breaks apart? The ground is ready to plant,” Slattery explained. "If that clod hits the sound and doesn’t break? It’s too wet yet.”

Even though this year is a day or two slower than last year’s pace, it is above the five-year average, something Slattery says is good news.