It was an extremely wet and unusually cold spring statewide, with the fourth wettest April and the twelfth wettest May since record keeping began in 1895. Snow and standing water left fields impassible to machinery and multiple freezes damaged overwintered crops, but the extended cold conditions allowed record high maple syrup production.
On April 28th, spring tillage was only 4 percent complete, 32 percentage points below the five year average and the lowest total for that date in the past 30 years. Farmers struggled to finish planting throughout June as topsoil moistures hovered between 35 and 44 percent surplus. Areas of southern Wisconsin reportedly received up to 11 inches of rain in the final week of June, causing localized flooding and crop damage.
Topsoil moistures then fell dramatically throughout the twelfth driest July in the past 119 years, with 0.90 inches less rain statewide than in July 2012. Despite two brief heat waves, temperatures were below normal for most of July and August, with some light frosts reported in northern Wisconsin the week ending August 18.
Though the northeast received above normal precipitation in August, the rest of the state was well below normal, causing drought conditions to develop across the west. Statewide, topsoil moistures were 79 percent short to very short on September 8th, compared to 71 percent short to very short on September 8, 2012. The lack of heat and moisture kept crop development indications consistently behind normal. Above average temperatures and rains in September and early October helped to alleviate moisture shortages and push crops toward maturity. But temperatures plunged in the latter half of October, halting the growing season.
Multiple rain and snow events slowed fieldwork throughout November. Fall tillage was 63 percent complete statewide on November 25, 9 percentage points behind the five year average.
Statewide temperatures from June to September were 0.1 degrees above normal in 2013, compared to 2.0 degrees above normal in 2012. April through August had below normal temperatures, with April averaging 6.4 degrees below normal. September had above normal temperatures, averaging 2.0 degrees above normal. The month with the greatest departure from normal was March, which averaged 6.6 degrees below normal.
Precipitation totals for April through September were above normal across the state, with a statewide total of 23.85 inches. This was 6.12 inches above the total for 2012 and 1.34 inches above normal. Total precipitation in the northern third of the state was 1.22 inches above normal for April through September, the central third of the state was 0.86 inches below normal, and the southern third of the state was 4.13 inches above normal.