Agriculture Archives for 2018-07

Board member does not see stricter manure handling ordinances coming to Kewaunee County

By Tim Kowols       

Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation Committee member Lee Luft does not see their local townships following the lead of others in the state when it comes to stricter manure spreading practices. The town of Liberty Grove could join municipalities like Nashotah and Delafield on Wednesday with stricter spreading regulations, including banning manure not produced within its boundaries. Luft says many farms straddle township lines based on where the home farm is located and where they own or lease land. With other regulations already in place in Kewaunee County like the ban on spreading in the winter months and the new NR-151 rules, Luft says farmers should have the opportunity to be able to stick to their nutrient management plans.

Luft believes farms would likely have to scale back their size if new ordinances were enacted due to land restraints.

Milk Prices continue to stay low for area dairies

By Paul Schmitt    

Area dairy farmers are hoping that milk prices make a comeback later this year.  According to Hoard's Dairyman, the price of August Class 1 fluid milk is at $14.15 as announced on July 18.  The price reflects a $1.21 decrease from June.  Rich Olson of Olson Family Farm and a member of the Ag Advisory Board, says he and other area dairy farmers are hopeful of a bounce in milk prices.


Milk prices this year have been as high as $16.50 in May.  The national weighted average price of a half-gallon of conventional milk is $2.07, according to the USDA.

Olson, Parks prepared to blaze new path at Door County Fair.

By Tim Kowols       

While other counties have had similar programs for years, Claire Olson and Helen Parks are excited to be the first Fairests of the Door County Fair. The pair will help promote the Door County Fair through a number of different avenues as they develop youth leadership skills. A student of the agricultural education program at UW-River Falls, Olson hopes her role helps the fair continue to thrive.

A senior at Southern Door High School, Parks says going to the Door County Fair has always been one of her favorite things to do.

Olson and Parks will be announcing musical acts and handing out ribbons all fair long when it runs from August 1 to August 5 at John Miles County Park.

Cherry harvest looking good in Door County

By Paul Schmitt    

Cherry picking season is in full mode throughout the Door Peninsula.  The cherry crop harvesting in orchards is about halfway through the season, according to Steve Wood from Wood Orchards in Sturgeon Bay and Egg Harbor.  He shares an update of the tart and sweet cherries in Door County.


Wood categories the cherries as "above average" quality with no weather issues affecting the crop.  He forecasts a possible increased volume as well for sweet and tart cherries.

Dairy group wants a chance to let manure spreading reforms work

By Tim Kowols       

Members of Peninsula Pride Farms hope they are given a chance to let a number of new regulations and changes to their manure spreading practices work before more ordinances are enacted. The town of Liberty Grove could vote on a measure next week that would put strict limits on manure spreading, including not allowing farms from outside the township spread there. Farmers in northeast Wisconsin were already put under stricter guidelines on July 1 that forbids them from spreading on land with extremely thin soil. Peninsula Pride Farms President Don Niles says unintended consequences could arise if other townships follow suit, some of which are not even environmental in nature.

Niles also fears ordinances like those already passed in Nashotah and Delafield, Wis. could lead to nearby agricultural land being overtaxed by nutrients or developed. Door County residents were expected to speak in favor of such rules to the Land Conservation Committee and the Town of Gibraltar board during their July meetings.

Good Soybean Forecast Being Offset by Tariffs

By Terry Kovarik              


Recent rains have aided area soybean growers and agriculture agents expect a good yield because of it. But the Trump Administration's tariffs on China and other trading partners could be an obstacle to some area growers' bottom line. U-W Extension Ag Agent Aerica Bjurstrom says growers have seen prices for their crops drop to between seven and nine-dollars a bushel. That's nearing the break-even point Bjurstrom says China's responses to U-S tariffs are being felt in our area.



The soybeans turned away by China were then sold at lower prices and diverted to other countries while shipping costs increased. But with two more months before the harvest, Bjurstrom says there's still time for a turn around.

Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center has Kewaunee County ties

By Tim Kowols       

The Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center may be located in Manitowoc, but its neighbors to the north in Kewaunee County helped make sure the new museum was a reality. The 29,000 square-foot facility includes interactive exhibits, a birthing center, and an opportunity to visit a nearby farm. At least six Kewaunee County farm operators have contributed to the project, some of which donated more than $10,000 to see the building rise from the middle of a cornfield. The family of Carlton-born agricultural pioneer Norval Dvorak has also donated thousands of dollars to the $13 million facility. Dale Bogart of Deer Run Dairy in Kewaunee says supporting the industry's education efforts is important.

The Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center officially opens its doors this weekend.

Knorn to represent Wisconsin in national dairy judging contest

By Tim Kowols       

After proving she knows a thing or two about showing dairy cows at last weekend's Kewaunee County Fair, Casco's Mikayla Knorn will show the country how much she knows about judging them. Knorn, a member of the fourth place winning Kewaunee County 4-H Dairy Judging team, will represent Wisconsin in the national dairy judging contest this fall in Louisville, Kentucky. Competitors work on identifying the positives in a cow's frame, dairy strength, rear legs, and udder and see how they compare with a judge's point of view. Whether it is showing or judging, Knorn loves the competition.

Knorn finished sixth overall in the individual competition, helping her earn the spot on the ten-member Wisconsin team.

Farmers head to fields for summer harvest

By Tim Kowols       

The time is now for many farmers to head to their fields to harvest some of the first crops of the season. According to the Wisconsin AgConnection, corn and soybeans are progressing ahead of schedule while oats and wheat are at about the same point as they were last year. About a quarter of the winter wheat crop in the state has been harvested, which Adam Barta from Rio Creek Feed Mill says is important as prices remain tight.

According to Successful Farming, dry weather in Europe is to thank for the highest prices corn and soybean farmers have seen in about two weeks. Barta says waiting on harvesting crops could leave it susceptible to disease and damage.

Liberty Grove officials look to put strict limits on manure spreading

By Tim Kowols       

Out-of-town liquid manure haulers will have to go elsewhere if the Liberty Grove Town Board approves a new ordinance next week. Under the proposed ordinance, liquid manure spreading would essentially be eliminated and any type of fertilizer would have to originate within the town's border in order to be spread. The village of Nashotah and the city of Delafield passed similar measures earlier this year, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Town chairperson John Lowry says the action is meant to protect the area's groundwater, which is susceptible to contamination due to its thin soils.

Lowry says the board could vote on the ordinance at its meeting next week if lawyers say it is within the town's means to place the restriction.  County citizens were also expected to bring up the cause to the Town of Gibraltar and the Door County Land Conservation Committee at meetings held earlier this month.

Sturgeon Bay School District breaks ground on greenhouse

By Tim Kowols       

Students at Sturgeon Bay School District could be tasting the fruit of their labor as soon as this fall after ground was broken on its greenhouse project earlier this week. The project was fully funded by private donations and will be used for classes spanning the spectrum of subjects. Teacher Natalie Townsend says the greenhouse led to the development of her new sustainable living class.

Food service director Jenny Spude believes the students' pride in their work will have a ripple effect in the cafeteria.

The completion date for the new greenhouse located in front of Sturgeon Bay High School is expected to be in mid- to late September.

Fairests of the Fair begin their busy weekend

By Tim Kowols       

The social calendar for the Kewaunee County Fairests of the Fair is daunting enough the other 51 weeks of the year, but it reaches its peak this weekend in Luxemburg for the Kewaunee County Fair. Fairest of the Fair Charlene Robinson and Junior Fairest of the Fair Macy Ledvina have been visiting local events since they earned their crowns in January. Robinson has been through it before when she was the Junior Fairest of the Fair in 2011 and is excited to help promote the fair again this year.

Ledvina, a Luxemburg-Casco Middle School student, says she has enjoyed her reign thus far.

There will be plenty of opportunities to see Robinson and Ledvina during the Kewaunee County Fair including awarding ribbons to exhibit participants throughout the weekend, Saturday's Crown and Sash Dash, and Sunday's parade.


Picture courtesy of Kewaunee County Fairest of the Fair

Apple crops look to rebound in Kewaunee County

By Tim Kowols       

As cherry season hits its peak in Door County, orchard owners in Kewaunee County hope they are just as successful with their apples. Last spring's wet weather took its toll on the apple crop, forcing orchards like Hillside Apples in Casco to stop their pick-your-own schedule much earlier in the season. Hillside Apples owner Bill Roethle says even with a late start due to Winter Storm Evelyn, he is hopeful for a return to normal.

Fans of apples still have some time to enjoy other in-season fruits like cherries. Apples are usually ready to be picked in late September to early October.

Area Farmers Face Good to Marginal Corn Crops

By Terry Kovarik

Inconsistent rainfall in Door and Kewaunee Counties could mean mixed corn yields for area farmers. That's the assessment from an area U-W Agriculture agent. Corn crops are reaching the point where tassels should begin forming. That means rain is needed to aid in pollination. Aerica Bjurstrom from the Kewaunee County Extension Office says most area corn corps should be good. But the elements have not been kinds to selected areas.


But Bjurstrom adds farmers overall have had good silage from past years to make up for shortfalls in this year's crop.

Technology aids more than just production for area farmers

By Tim Kowols       

Tom Cornette had more than just milking to worry about when Kewaunee County received over two feet of snow last April. Digging out feed piles and the milk house became paramount. Cornette reflected on the experience as hundreds came to his Luxemburg operation over the weekend to see the robotic milking equipment he installed in a new barn thanks to Abts Lely Center. With a tightening labor market, Cornette says installing the equipment was the best decision for his cows.

Abts Lely Center owner Greg Abts says the technology they are installing at area dairy operations also helps provide farmers with clean, consistent milking and plenty of data about their cow's health.

Area youth prepare for busy week at the Kewaunee County Fair

By Aerica Bjurstrom, Kewaunee County UW-Extension       

It's fair week in Kewaunee County. If you're a fan of livestock shows, they kick off on Wednesday, July 18 at 4:30 PM with the Llama and Alpaca show, followed by the Goat show.

Thursday, July 19 opens with the Sheep show at 8:30 AM, the Junior Rabbit show at 9:00 AM and Beef show at noon. Always a big crowd draw, the hog show at 6:00 PM on Thursday.

Friday, July 20 brings the Dairy show starting bright and early at 8:00 AM, Poultry show at 9:00 AM, and Round Robin Showmanship at 6:30 PM.

Saturday, July 21 will host the Livestock Auction at 1:00 PM, and will top off the night with the glamourous Dairy Futurity at 7:30 PM. Junior and open horse events happen every day of the fair.

After the parade on Sunday, stick around for Kiddie Showmanship at 2:00 PM.

Many more events are happening at the 101st Kewaunee County Fair. Come and see all the happenings this week in Luxemburg. For more information visit

Armyworms threaten some crops in Kewaunee County

By Tim Kowols       

Some fields in Kewaunee County could use a little extra care in addition to rainfall. Recent scouting reports performed by Rio Creek Feed Mill suggests some corn, oats, and wheat crops could be affected by armyworms, a pest that takes advantage of plants near field edges, grassy areas, or were put into the ground late. Adam Barta from Rio Creek Feed Mill says armyworms do not invade the area every year, but wind direction makes their arrival unpredictable.

Barta says pesticides and specialized equipment is the best way to treat the affected crops. Farmers can usually locate the armyworms by inspecting their own fields or looking for large groups of blackbirds that enjoy eating the larva.

Sturgeon Bay farmer named to Dairy Task Force 2.0

By Tim Kowols       

Moriah Brey of Brey Cycle Farms in Sturgeon Bay is one of 14 farmers on a newly formed committee hoping to have a positive impact on the dairy industry. Governor Scott Walker used the main stage at this year's Wisconsin Farm Technology Days in Wood County to introduce the 31 members of the Dairy Task Force 2.0, which is made up of farmers, milk processors and marketers, and allied organizations.  As a farmer, agricultural lender, and a mother, Brey hopes she can play a role in helping keep Wisconsin "America's Dairyland."

It marks the second time in 33 years the state has established a dairy-focused task force and hopes to begin meetings in August. Brey Cycle Farms, owned by Brey and her husband Tony and her in-laws Jacob and Lauren, is a member of Peninsula Pride Farms and the Door-Kewaunee Demonstration Farm Network. The two groups are working on ways to develop conservation practices that can be used across the area.

Door County cherry crop ahead of schedule this summer

By Paul Schmitt    

The cherry picking season is starting early this summer in Door County.  According to Steve Wood from Wood Orchards in Egg Harbor, the heat is bringing on cherry crop sooner than expected.  Wood says he has heard that southern Door County orchards have begun picking operations.   He says his orchard has fortunately avoided any wind or hail damage to this point of the season.


Wood says the cherries are about one week ahead of schedule and appear to be on target for a great crop.


Pick-your-own cherry orchards in Door County according to

  •  Alexander's Cherry Orchard - Brussels, WI

  • Cherry Lane Orchards - Sturgeon Bay, WI

  • Choice Orchards - Sturgeon Bay, WI

  • HyLine Orchard - Fish Creek, WI

  • Kielar Akers Orchard - Sturgeon Bay, WI

  • Lautenbach's Orchard Country Winery & Market - Fish Creek, WI

  • Meleddy Cherry Orchard - Sturgeon Bay, WI

  • Paradise Orchard - Brussels, WI

  • Robertson Orchards - Sturgeon Bay, WI

  • Schartner's Farm Market - Egg Harbor, WI

  • Zettel Farms - Bailey's Harbor, WI

Dry spell affects crop growth this year

By McKenzie Konop       

Farmers are in a bind when it comes to crop growth this year.   While the crops look healthy, a dry spell has hit Door County and is slowing down the growth of crops this year according to Rich Olson, owner of Olson Family Farms.  Olson says not only is the crop growth slow locally, but the dry spell is affecting other surrounding areas.

Olson adds the lack of rain takes a financial toll on farmers everywhere.  Overall, He hopes to see rainfall soon to speed up crop growth.

June rainfall much better for farmers this year

By Paul Schmitt    

Area farmers are finding the occasional rains this summer far better than what was experienced last year.  The overabundance of rain last year by this time caused some crops to be damaged.  A record 14 inches of rain fell in some parts of Door County last year but this year is a different story. Dan Barnard of Healthy Ridge Farm in Sevastopol says his crops are doing better with less moisture this year.


This June, most parts of Door County received just over three inches of rain with the average rainfall being 3.2 inches, according to

Farmers hope new rules do not push out smaller operators

By Tim Kowols       

Members of Peninsula Pride Farms see changes to the state's NR-151 manure spreading rules as an opportunity to improve their practices, but hope all operators can stay in business. The changes prevent farmers in 15 Wisconsin counties including Door and Kewaunee from spreading manure on land that has less than two feet of soil to bedrock. Peninsula Pride Farms has provided farmers with the tools needed to be better stewards of their land in the future as technology improves. Don Niles hopes none of the organization's members finds themselves without room to operate.

Peninsula Pride Farms has been organizing tours and "field days on the fly" this summer to display the progress being made at members of the Door-Kewaunee Watershed Demonstration Farms Network.

Breakfast on the Farm showcases future of agriculture

By McKenzie Konop       

An annual event showcased the future of farming Sunday morning.  Door County Breakfast on the Farm is hosted annually by FFA and the event offers fresh farm food and other agricultural activities.  Ed Staats, Owner of Country View Farms, says his farm was selected to host Breakfast on the Farm through the volunteer process done by the FFA.

Staats adds his family has owned Country View Farms since 1883.  The FFA hosted its 37th year of Breakfast on the Farm and all the money made from the breakfast will go to scholarships for FFA students.

Cherries could be ready by mid-July

By Tim Kowols       

Cherry lovers in Door County will not have to wait much longer to get their summer fix. Trees at local orchards are beginning to bear ripening fruit after cherry blossoms bloomed in the middle of May. Steve Wood from Wood Orchard says the weekend heat could help the cherries ripen even quicker and into markets faster.

As for his apple trees, Wood says they have had to rely on irrigation to make sure they are getting plenty of water at this time of the year.

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