Wisconsin set five record highs and had three record lows in sectors of its agricultural production for 2012, according to the latest edition of the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics handbook which was distributed in December. The 66-page edition contains complete statistics for 2012 and a few updates to as recent as October of 2013, particularly in the dairy section.
In official records that go back to 1866 for some crops and to 1900-24 for most others, Wisconsin set record highs in 2012 with average yields of 460 hundredweight per acre for its commercial potato crop, 8.01 tons per acre for its processed sweet corn, and 4.5 tons per acre for processed snap beans.
In the addition, the 19,700 harvested acres of cranberries and cranberry production of 4.83 million barrels were record highs.
On the down side, the state's harvest of 660,000 bushels of barley in 2012 was the lowest since records were first compiled in 1866. Wisconsin's record high for a barley harvest was 25.548 million bushels in 1935.
In records that date to only 1981, the 2.5 million acres harvested for forage in 2012 was the lowest total. The 1.45 million acres harvested for dry hay also set a new low. The respective highs for those categories were 4.4 million acres in 1989 and 4.263 million acres in 1944.
Wisconsin posted nine top rankings for agricultural production on a comparison of the states for 2012. Four of those were in the dairy sector.
The state's top standings included the production of nearly 2.79 billion pounds of cheese (25.6 percent of the national total), 829.8 million pounds of American type cheeses, 52.956 million pounds of Muenster cheese, and nearly 290 million pounds of dry whey for human food.
Wisconsin ranked second in milk production with 27.224 billion pounds with its production of more than 1.403 billion pounds of Italian cheeses and 951.6 million pounds of mozzarella cheese.
Among field crops, Wisconsin stood at the top with its harvest of 14.21 million tons of corn silage, its production of 4.83 million barrels of cranberries (60 percent of the nation's total), its 119,000 tons of processed carrots (37 percent of the national total), and its 318,000 tons for processed snap beans (43.4 percent of the national total).
Wisconsin's harvest of 7.8 million bushels of oats in 2012 trailed only Minnesota's total. The state posted a third place ranking among the states for its production of sweet corn for processing, green peas for processing, dry equivalent harvest of all forages, and potato yield in 2012. Fifth places were reported for cucumbers for pickles and mint for oil.
In the livestock sector, Wisconsin held onto first place with its 46,000 goats that are milked on 212 farms. Its 1.27 million milk cows were second in the nation behind California's 1.78 million and accounted for 13.8 percent of the nation's total of 9.22 million dairy cows in 2012.