Wisconsin farmers winding up fieldwork
Dry weather across Wisconsin last week kept machinery rumbling as farmers took advantage of six days of good weather to harvest remaining crops, till their land and haul manure.
According to the latest "Wisconsin Crop Progress Report", 87 percent of the state's corn crop had been harvested for grain by Nov. 4, well above last year's mark of 67 percent and the five-year average of 56 percent.
Reporting farmers and county ag agents in northern Wisconsin said yields were average to above average, while reporters in southern and central Wisconsin said yields were below normal, with wide variations depending on local conditions.
The corn and soybean yields in Buffalo and Monroe counties came in better than expected, while Vernon County producers reported being pleased with their yields, considering the drought conditions in the area.
Portage County reported that corn yields on what wasn't chopped off or just left in the field as a zero ranged from 20-85 bushels per acre. "In the far northwest where they caught a little rain, there is some 180 bushel corn," the reporter marveled.
While the county's yield reports for soybeans ranged from 10-30 bushels per acre, there were reports of 65 bushels per acre in the county's far northwest section. "More irrigation pivots are going in this fall," the reporter added. "The drought of this year has made many more invest in water."
Numerous reporters said storage facilities were full, with some corn being hauled into drought-affected areas where space remains available. There were also many reports of corn stocks being bailed or shredded to supplement feed supplies.
Statewide, hay and roughage supplies were marked at 50 percent short, 44 percent adequate and six percent surplus.
From east to west, the lower tier of the state's nine districts was 62 percent short, 73 percent short and 84 percent short respectively, while the middle tier was 30 percent, 71 percent and 38 percent short. The top tier was 21 percent, 35 percent and 23 percent short.
In Buffalo County, dry hay is in short supply, the reporter said, and dairy farms that buy grain are seeing grain prices too high to justify the fixed price of milk. In Oneida County, some farmers have turned livestock into the frozen hayfields to pasture.
Statewide, pastures were rated 69 percent poor or very poor, and 30 percent fair or good.
The Nov. 5 report said no precipitation was received at any of the five major reporting stations between Oct. 28 and Nov. 4. As a result, the state's soil moisture level fell from the previous week's mark of 45 percent short/very short to 50 percent short/very short.
Temperatures for the week came in four to six degrees below average. Average highs ranged from 46-49 degrees, with Madison topping out at 54 and Milwaukee at 53. Average lows ranged from 23-34 degrees, although Eau Claire chilled to 19 and Madison to 23 degrees.
Oneida County has had night temperatures in the teens for two weeks with day temperatures just above freezing. Things are starting to freeze solid, the reporter observed. Ice is starting to skim the lakes, the back bays are frozen over and folks are harvesting Christmas trees and boughs.
While the rain that fell in October improved field conditions and made tillage easier, reporters said, the moisture was no longer evident in the soil in some areas. The topsoil moisture in Columbia County is very dry, while the topsoil in Buffalo County has some moisture, but the subsoil moisture is very dry.
In Ozaukee County, conditions were described as "just perfect" for tillage with the ground dry on top with good moisture down below.
By week's end, 58 percent of the state's fall tillage had been completed. Liquid manure hauling and application were and will be a major field activity, reporters noted.
The emergence and condition of fall seedings was mixed due to both dry soils and unusually cold temperatures, reporters said. Winter wheat emergence had improved, although it was described as poor in some areas where soils were too dry.
Taylor County reported winter small grains looking good going into winter, while excellent rains over the past several weeks have allowed for "very good" winter wheat germination in Sheboygan and Winnebago counties.
In Washington County, producers were chopping oatlage planted after winter wheat, while Portage County growers are not harvesting some fields of potatoes.
"They are going to stay in the field, since storage is full all over and there is no price at this time", the reporter said. "It costs more to dig than they are worth."
As the harvest winds down, the white tailed deer in Buffalo County and elsewhere are in rut and hunter excitement is building.
The weekly "Wisconsin Crop Progress Report" is a cooperative effort of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection and the National Weather Service.
It is produced at National Agricultural Statistics Service's Wisconsin field office under the direction of Robert Battaglia.