With half of November already gone, farmers across Wisconsin were on the go last week, racing to combine and till their fields as the weather allowed. They caught a break in the middle of the week, although the clear days were bracketed by bouts of precipitation.
"Finally, a few days of nice weather with temperatures above normal for this time of the year. Fields are still wet, but some corn and beans got harvested anyway," the Ashland County reporter said in the Nov. 18 "Wisconsin Crop Progress Report".
According to the document, the week ending Nov. 17 offered 4.3 days suitable for fieldwork statewide. In the northern section of the state, frost helped firm up the ground.
In Langlade County, the cooler weather had frozen the ground enough to allow harvesting activities. Progress was made on beans and the corn harvest was starting with 25-32 percent moisture, the reporter said, but there was 3-4 inches of frost and very limited tillage or manure application.
In Pierce County, the weather and soil conditions were "acceptable" for combining and fall tillage, while lots of corn stalk baling was done in St. Croix County. Fall tillage, as well as the corn and soybean harvests, were also progressing well in Washington County.
Harvest-halting rainfall was welcomed in Grant County. "We got some much-needed rain, which should help build up the subsoil moisture," that reporter shared. "There is still much corn to be harvested yet, but there won't be any fieldwork for some time now."
Farmers in many areas of the state had to contend with muddy conditions. It was particularly sloppy in the northeast district where topsoil moisture was running a 52 percent surplus, and the east central district where the surplus was 58 percent.
"It is really wet out now," the Manitowoc County reporter said. "We might have to wait for the ground to freeze in order to finish up harvest and not damage the fields."
Enter severe weather
Statewide, some progress was made on the corn and soybean harvest before Saturday and Sunday brought additional widespread rain and severe weather, the report said
In Dodge County, two inches of rain rode in with nasty winds on Nov. 17. "There is lots of wind damage," the reporter said. "Corn and some buildings were blown down. Straight line winds did a lot of damage."
Reported precipitation totals ranged from 0.19 inches in Eau Claire to 0.97 inches in Green Bay. It rained the 14, 16 and 17 in Jackson County; while Door County got an inch of rain and a "dreary" week, and Clark County got one inch total. "We're done plowing for this year," that reporter observed.
The recent wet weather means not much fall tillage has been done and there are still a lot of unharvested corn fields throughout Crawford County.
Field conditions are also quite wet in Dane County, but the corn and soybeans are done, except for a few large farmers and some late planted crops of corn. All the planting is over and fall tillage is at a standstill, the reporter said, except for some early planted radishes and oats that were sprayed with Roundup. Even though it's wet, they will freeze out, he noted.
Fall plantings liked the situation and were responding well to the moist conditions. Waupaca County reported the wheat looks good, as does wheat in Crawford County and Washington County, and winter crops in Dane County.
By week's end, the state's harvest of corn for grain was 74 percent complete, compared to the five-year average of 79 percent and last year's mark of 97 percent. In Chippewa County, farmers were almost finished with the corn harvest and fall tillage, while both corn and soybean yields in Crawford County were "respectable for the type of year we've had," the reporter said. "Right now, we might need a hard freeze to wrap up the fall harvest."
Reporters said grain moisture content remained high and dryers were working around the clock to dry the grain for storage. "It's been a slow harvest with moisture in the corn not drying," the reporter from Walworth County elaborated. "There are lots of drying costs either at the elevator or on the farm."
In Florence County, some silage was still being harvested, although most everyone was starting to button things up for the winter. In Portage County, the corn and soybean harvest was nearly complete, with below average yields reported. With fall tillage and planting also close to done, manure hauling was the big focus.
The corn harvest had picked up again in Waupaca, with farmers reporting the moisture content decreasing with the abundance of windy weather.
In Walworth County, the only beans left to harvest are a few fields that were planted after peas. Statewide, 93 percent of the state's soybean crop had been harvested by Nov. 17, while fall tillage hit 55 percent complete and many farmers raced to spread manure before the ground freezes.
The weekly "Wisconsin Crop Progress Report" is a cooperative effort of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and the National Weather Service. It is compiled at the Wisconsin field office in Madison by state statistician Greg Bussler.