Frost holds off as bean harvest gears up

Carole Curtis
Farmers working the harvest had to deal with wet soils and ruts in many areas of Wisconsin last week.


Frost is taking its time showing up this year and farmers across Wisconsin are grateful.

October was ushered in with a week of daytime highs in the 60s and 70s and overnight lows in the upper 40s and low 50s, although average frost dates fall before October 3 for much of Wisconsin, excluding a warmer zone near Lake Michigan,.

Late planted corn and soybeans have benefitted from this year’s late frost, reporter said in the "Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report" for the week ending Oct. 2.

Weather conditions were a mixed bag of sunny and overcast, with high winds, light showers and heavy fogs and dews. Fields dried out slowly during the 3.7 days suitable for fieldwork.

Some farmers got even less.  "We had 7.35 inches rain in September and just one day in the field," the Fond du Lac reporter said. "That was just enough to wrap up the corn silage and see a start to fall tillage and manure applications. We're still looking for a dry out."

Some fields were dry enough for harvest activities to resume late in the week, the report said, although rutting and elevated grain moistures slowed or prevented work in some areas.

Periodic light rains kept the grain harvest from going in Adams, Marquette and Waushara counties. " There are soybeans and corn ready when the weather dries off," the area reporter noted.

In Portage County, fall color was nearing its peak and the cranberry harvest continued with good yields and poor color, but very wet fields were impeding harvests.

Rivers and drainage ditches were going down in Columbia County and, as of Sunday, there was very little standing water in the fields.  With a couple of dry days, the reporter said, the corn silage harvest should finish up and manure applications could resume.

October began with the state's topsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 63 percent adequate and 36 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 67 percent adequate and 32 percent surplus.

As of October 2, 98 percent of the state’s corn acreage was dented.  Eighty percent of corn was reported mature, 11 days ahead of the five-year average.  Corn harvested for grain was 6 percent complete, even with last year and four days behind the average.

Corn harvested for silage was 80 percent harvested, one day ahead of last year and seven days ahead of the average.

In Bayfield and Douglas counties, fields were too wet for tillage work, but farmers kept plugging away at the corn silage harvest, despite the muddy conditions.

Ruts were also showing up in wetter portions of corn silage fields in Chippewa County. , where the high moisture corn harvest is about half done.  Moisture levels in corn were dropping quickly, ear molds were developing  and the high moisture corn harvest was about half done.

Rock County also reported corn diseases are starting to impact stands with corn going down and dropping ears.

Statewide, corn condition was 87 percent good to excellent.

Eighty-eight percent of soybeans were dropping leaves, two days ahead of last year and seven days ahead of the average.

Soybean growers in St. Croix County took advantage of drier weather late in the week to push their soybean harvest into full swing. "Yields are very good and moisture is okay," the reporter  shared.

As of Sunday morning, growers had gathered in 8 percent of the crop, three days behind last year and five days behind the average.  Soybean condition was rated 84 percent good to excellent.

In Vernon County, where heavy rains fell the previous week, farmers thought there could be some issue with the harvesting of soybeans due to tall bean plants leaning in one direction.

Fields were busy in Price and Taylor counties. "Harvests of corn silage, soybeans and high moisture corn are all going on at the same time," that reporter said.

In Shawano County, where damp weather was keeping soybeans just above the desired moisture, a fair amount of high moisture corn came with yields averaging 150-180 bushels.  Pumpkin and apple picking was in full swing with very good quality and quantity, the reporter said, and alfalfa and pastures were still growing very nicely.

Statewide, the fourth cutting of alfalfa was 89 percent complete by Oct. 2, two days ahead of last year and nine days ahead of the average. Pasture condition was rated 77 percent good to excellent and fall tillage hit 10 percent complete.

The week ended with 74 percent of the state's potatoes out of the ground, six days behind last year, and 34 percent of  winter wheat was planted, four days behind last year.  Eighteen percent of winter wheat was emerged, one day ahead of last year.

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.