© Gannett Central WisconsinCentral Wiscconsin farmers say crops are 100 days behind because of drought.
Governor Jim Doyle has declared a state of emergency in 41 counties Wednesday because of drought conditions.
The declaration includes Portage, Wood and Marathon counties, and most of the state north of Adams County.
Portage and Wood counties are about 6 inches below normal for rainfall, said Jack Bourget, manager for Portage and Wood counties' Farm Service Agency office. The area is also about 100 growing days behind normal
, mostly because of a lack of heat and humidity.
The latest crop progress report issued by the USDA found that more than half of the state's soil moisture is considered low.
The declaration allows the Department of Natural Resources to expedite farmers' requests for temporary irrigation permits to use stream or lake water to irrigate their crops, said Randy Romanski, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Barring an extention by the Legislature, temporary permits will be in effect until Sept. 11.
"It's a proactive way to help those farmers try and get some water on their crops before it's too late," Romanski said.