2012 – Drought and Weird Weather

This summer was hot and dry. Nationally, it was the third-warmest summer on record, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. Drought affected most of the country, and many counties in southern Wisconsin suffered along with the rest of the Midwest.

Photo by Len Villano.

Although local conditions were dry, Door County crops like soybeans and alfalfa fared better than most. But that doesn’t mean we escaped effects of the weird weather. Exceptionally warm weather in March caused fruit trees to bud, then die when frost hit later that spring. Door County only got about 10 percent of a normal cherry harvest, driving prices up.

Door County received a federal agricultural disaster declaration for cherries and maple syrup. A disaster declaration makes low-interest federal loans available to county farmers hit by the weird weather, even if they don’t grow cherries or tap maple syrup.

Farm productivity across the country affects Door County outside of the fields, too. Low yields of cash crops like corn and soybeans means a hike in food prices for both people and livestock. The USDA expects most food price increases to happen in 2013.