August brings good harvest

Progress made harvesting hay, small grains

Carole Curtis


Wisconsin farmers zipped through their fields last week, using 5.4 days of fine field-working weather to make plenty of progress harvesting hay, small grains, potatoes and vegetables.

"It was a nice week with rain and heat. Crops are looking really good and moving along in a timely manner," the Rusk County reporter observed in the "Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report" for the week ending August 7.

Temperatures did cool down a bit, although they remained in the upper 80s and low 90s with high humidity. Reported rainfall totals ranged widely from zero in Green Bay to 1.61 inches in Madison.

Across Shawano County, rain measured somewhere from a tenth of an inch to 2.5 inches, while Vernon County farmers got from 1 to 3 inches.

Kenosha County was among those on the sparse side. "We need rain.  Cracks are showing up in the ground," that reporter shared.

The multi-week stretch of hot and muggy weather  has stressed livestock and encouraged the growth of weeds and biting insects in some areas. "The rain and heat have made for great growing conditions for mosquitoes," the Rock County reporter observed.

However, the abundant heat and moisture has benefitted corn and soybeans as ears and pods develop.

"All crops appear to be ahead of normal maturity for early August," the Waupaca County reporter commented.

"Our growing conditions continue to be excellent and the year continues to be on the early side of normal," the Trempealeau County reporter added.

As of August 7, the state's topsoil moisture supplies were 0 percent very short, 8 percent short, 86 percent adequate and 6 percent surplus, while subsoil moisture supplies were rated 1 percent very short, 8 percent short, 85 percent adequate and 6 percent surplus.

Corn was running nicely ahead of average. By week's end,, 96 percent of the crop was in or beyond the silking stage, 7 days ahead of last year and 13 days ahead of the five-year average.  A good 34 percent of corn had reached the dough stage, 4 days ahead of last year and 7 days ahead of the average, while 3 percent of corn was dented.

The report rated the crop's condition at 88 percent good to excellent.

In the state's soybean fields, 97 percent of the crop was at or beyond the blooming stage and 82 percent of soybeans were setting pods, 9 days ahead of last year and 12 days ahead of the average.  The condition rating was  88 percent good to excellent.

In Kewaunee County, both corn and soybeans are doing very well, with the height of the soybeans more than knee high in many instances, and some corn stalks forming more than one cob.

A few soybean fields sport volunteer corn. "Whether this will be a problem that will need to be dealt with by spraying is a decision the producer will have to make," the local reporter noted. "Most will choose not to run down the bean plants, so as not to lose bushels."

Wisconsin growers had pulled 10 percent of potatoes by week's end, 6 days behind last year.  Potato condition was rated 91 percent good to excellent.

Oats were slightly ahead with 97 percent coloring or beyond, two days ahead of last year.  Oats for grain were 60 percent harvested, 4 days ahead of last year and 5 days ahead of the average, with 88 percent rated good to excellent for condition.

In Kewaunee County, where the oat harvest had just gotten underway, a number of fields are plagued by weeds, which are getting worse as time goes on. The moisture content of the oats taken off so far ranges  from  14-17 percent.  "Some producers will choose to take off the crop sooner, rather than later, to avoid more weed pressure, while knowing the moisture will be higher," the reporter noted.

The state's winter wheat harvest was also chugging along ahead of schedule, with 88 percent of the crop off the field by  August 7, 6 days ahead of last year.

In Shawano County, yields were running anywhere from 75 to 125 bushels per acre.  Vomitoxin was a problem in about 10 percent of the loads, the reporter noted.

The harvest was winding down in Kewaunee County with impressive yields ranging from around 60 bushels per acre to over 100. However, the high numbers have led to a glut of winter wheat straw.

"Quite a few producers have chosen to chop the straw back on the field, since there is not much of market for it now," the reporter said.  "Others have chosen to store it away, if they can find room, in the hopes of selling it later when the price will be higher."

In Price and Taylor counties, small grain yields and straw quantities were also marked above average.  "Crops to date are looking phenomenal at this point," that reporter said.

Hay yields in the area were also rolling in above average.  It was the same story in Shawano County, where a third crop of high quality and quantity was rolling in.

Haying was going well state-wide with 68 percent of third cutting and 4 percent of fourth cutting off the field by week's end.   All Hay condition was rated 90 percent good to excellent, while the state's pastures were rated 77 percent good to excellent.

The weekly “Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition 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.

The multi-week stretch of hot and muggy weather  has stressed livestock and encouraged the growth of weeds and biting insects in some areas.