Wisconsin’s gun deer season fired up last week and the crop year wound down with temperatures that felt more like the end of January than the end of November.
Farmers were challenged with a cold and wintry week that featured snow, rain, freezing temperatures and 4.4 days of suitable weather. According to the final “Wisconsin Crop Progress Report” of the season, the weather hampered harvest operations midweek with a storm that ushered in a weekend cold snap.
Temperatures plummeted into the single digits statewide and fell below zero in the northwest early morning. “Winter is now here,” the Waushara County reporter in the document created with input from farm reporters and county ag agents across the state.
Rusk County had its first subzero night into morning. “Fields are frozen now and lakes, rivers and streams are freezing over. We're just about done for the year,” the reporter said.
For the week, reported temperatures averaged 3 degrees below normal to 2 degrees above normal. Average highs ranged from 35 to 43 degrees, while average lows ranged from 20 to 30 degrees. Milwaukee topped out at 65 degrees and La Crosse bottomed out at 5 degrees.
Precipitation totals measured from 0.22 inches in La Crosse to 2.2 inches in Milwaukee.
Two inches of rain fell on Kenosha County, while just enough rain fell in Dunn County to slow down the remaining corn harvest.
In Marathon County, days of moist, foggy weather culminated with 3 inches of snow and . Temperatures well below average in Oneida County prompted flooding of some cranberry beds to protect them from the cold. “This is about 2-3 weeks earlier than usual,” the reporter said, noting 0.35 inches of rain and 4 inches of snow fell in the course of the week.
Fields stiffened up in the North. “The ground froze hard this past weekend, so no more tillage for now,”Trempealeau County reported, while frost and significantly frozen ground will hamper tillage, but allow combining, Marinette and Vernon counties reported.
In other areas, fields remained muddy. In Sheboygan County, farmers were on hold. “Harvest weather is not good,” that reporter said. “A lot of soybeans and corn are not harvested yet. We’re waiting for the ground to freeze and temperatures to drop.”
Farmers harvested wherever they could, pushing the amount of corn for grain taken to 82 percent by Nov. 24, 5 percentage points below the five-year average.
In Dunn County, yields ranged all the way from 218 bushels per acre to 37 bushels per acre, with beans from 18 to 64 bushels per acre. Hay supplies remaining very short, the reporter added, with lots of corn stalks are being round baled.
In Kenosha County, corn yields ran from 160 to 200 bushels per acre, while soybeans came in at 56 bushels per acre
Some late planted corn and soybeans remained standing in the fields. Grain moistures were still high, the report noted, requiring expensive drying.
Corn had yet to be harvested in Barron County. “Too high on moisture,” the reporter shared, while Rusk Countyreported that the corn still in the field was planted late into June and is too wet to come in yet.
In Trempealeau County, the harvest has been stalled for the past couple of weeks. “Most moistures remaining are 30 percent and dry-down in the field has all but stopped,” the reporter said.
In Vernon County, deer were hiding in the standing corn.
In Juneau County, there were a lot of combines running late into the night hoping to get corn and beans off the field before winter sets in, the reporter said. “The moisture remains fairly high in corn making it expensive to dry so there is still a fair amount of late planted corn still standing in the field,” he added.
Although all the soybeans were harvested in Ozaukee County, the reporter said, corn was a different story. “Some farmers are just waiting for kernel moisture, at 30 plus percent, to drop,” he explained, noting the corn is still standing pretty good.
By week’s end, soybeans were 97 percent harvested and fall tillage was 63 percent complete, 9 percentage points behind the five-year average.
For some farmers, it was a done deal. “Ground is froze. Tillage is done,” the Marquette County reporter observed.
Fond du Lac County said the same. “Frost is about 8 inches down and about 1 inch of snow is on the ground,” the reporter said. “We're done with tillage and about done with field operations.”
In Columbia County, a weekend with nearly an inch of combine-stopping rain was followed by rain and snow . “It will make it challenging to finish up,” the reporter said, noting dryers were working hard with corn moistures still running in the upper teens and mid-20s.
“On a good note, many farmers’ harvest is complete or very near complete, and a fair amount of fall tillage has already taken place,” he added.
In Green County, all was in for 2013. “I thought last year's drought would be as bad as it could get, but this year's cold wet spring and then flooding two weeks later brought an almost total loss,” that reporter shared. “I got enough to feed my chickens for 2014, so I'm grateful for that much.”
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.