Weekend rainfall provides welcome relief for farmers, gardeners

SOUTHEASTERN WISCONSIN -- Farmers in the fields and gardeners in their backyards have noticed how dry the soil has been due to the lack of recent rainfall in southeastern Wisconsin. Many of them are now saying this weekend's rain and storms provided welcome relief.

Dairy farmer Raymond Diederich has his planting plans in place for spring. He says the gentle showers this weekend came at the right time. "With the dry weather, it hasn't been growing well as of late. It needs a little bit of moisture to warm the ground up. Last night's rain was really good," Diederich said.

Moisture from Sunday morning's rains have started seeping into the soil, but some of the cracks are still apparent - a reminder of a warm and dry spring. "Before the rain came through our soil was really dry, but it doesn't bother us a lot because there isn't a lot growing, except our hay and wheat, and it's really not critical like it is in July or August," Diederich said.

For those who aren't looking to plant acres of crops, but instead spruce up their yards, dry soil has proved a hassle. Gary Griep at Schroeder's Flowerland in Green Bay says he and his customers want more rain, but in moderation. "The soil is almost rock hard, due to the lack of snow, and obviously lack of rain, and the root system is not going to be well-established. I just hope we get more than just downpours of rain because then there's a lot of run-off. If we get nice, steady rains, it will be a good soak, almost like a sponge, so that will be helpful," Griep said.

Those who plant say they hope the old adage is true: April showers...will bring a bounty of May flowers...and healthy crops through the whole growing season.

Area greenhouses warn gardeners not to plant their warm weather vegetables or flowers just yet. More chilly nights and frost advisories are likely.