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Some Wisconsin farmers dealing with drought conditions

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WATERTOWN (WKOW) -- The weather has been hot and dry and it's starting to cause trouble for Wisconsin farmers.

All of southern Wisconsin is in some type of drought right now. It's more severe in the southeastern part of the state.

A little less than three years ago, part of the Mess Farm near Watertown was underwater.

Now they're dealing with the exact opposite problem: no water.

"It would be nice to sort of have a little even keel but we're not getting that," Pat Mess said.

He was milking his cows Sunday, stressing out over when the next rain will come.

"This spring it was wonderful. We all got into the fields early and it just seemed like a great thing by comparison to other years," Mess said. "Unfortunately once the tap was turned off for rain, it stayed off."

Mess is a dairy farmer, so the crops he grows are for feed, like alfalfa.

Normally he's able to harvest it multiple times throughout the season and he's just done his first cutting.

"If we don't get the rain as it begins to regrow, we're going to see a huge reduction in yields," Mess said.

That means he'll have to spend more trying to buy feed, which is becoming harder and harder to afford.

But he says it wouldn't take much to turn this around: just one inch of rain in the next three weeks.

"Not even figuratively, quite literally, we would be dancing in the puddles because that would mean staving off a potential disaster if this gets much worse," Mess said.

He says he's already starting to lose some of the crop in the drier soil on his land.

But in less than a month, if the rain doesn't come, he could see the rest of his crop yield cut in half or die completely.

"It's a stressful thing but there's nothing much you have control over. You just keep waiting and watching the forecast and crossing your fingers," Mess said.

According to drought.gov this is the 14th driest year in 127 years for his area. But that data also shows that this likely won't turn into a long term drought.

That same drought map shows a number of counties in central Wisconsin are abnormally dry but none are experiencing drought conditions right now.

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Neena Pacholke

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