Harvests chug ahead, despite moisture in field, plants

Carole Curtis, Correspondent


If pastures look really good for this time of year, it's because they are.

The "Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report" for the week ending Oct. 16 rated 73 percent of the state's pastures in good to excellent condition. That's the most in that condition category on Oct. 16 in the past 20 years.  

Thank 2016's wet, warm fall weather.

The second full week of October featured above normal temperatures and rain showers that kept fields soggy and grain moistures high, constraining many farmers' efforts to bring in the harvest.  However, as and where conditions allowed, soybean, corn and hay harvests continued during the 4.8 days suitable for fieldwork.

By week's end, the state's topsoil moisture supplies were 27 percent surplus and 72 percent adequate, while subsoil moisture was rated 26 percent surplus and 73 percent adequate.

The report also noted that, since Sept. 1, La Crosse and Madison have received more than six inches of rain above normal and Eau Claire has gotten over four inches above normal.   

Mold was affecting crops in some areas and in Marinette and Oconto counties, a number of fields featured standing water. "I've have heard reports of guys putting cat tracks on combines in order to harvest soybeans," the local reporter shared.

Fond du Lac County recorded its first killing frost on Thursday, Oct. 13.  "The degree days accumulated April 1 through October 13 were 2,950. Not bad," that reporter noted. 

Frost also ended the growing season in Barron County. "Some soybean fields that had green pods and stems the week before have finally began drying down after the frost and harvesting is proceeding," the reporter said, pegging grain moisture at 13 percent for soybeans and 18 percent for corn. 

Yields have been phenomenal, he added, exceeding 70 bushels per acre soybeans and 220 bushels per acre corn. 

Eau Claire County farmers were also enjoying above average soybean yields, while Juneau County reported very good yields. In Vernon County, beans were running 60-80 bushels per acre, although test weight was average to below average.

Green County reported very good yields with most soybean fields running in the 70 bushels per acre range and many corn fields averaging over 200 bushels per acre.

In Southern Wisconsin, where a killing frost held off, colder weather would help crops to dry down.

" I never thought I'd say it needs to get cold but it does!," the Portage/Wood County reporter said. "We haven't had the killing frost yet for the most part and many crops need it to either dry down or gain color and mature. Cranberries should be mostly harvested, but due to lack of cold weather, they won't ripen and turn color."     

As of October 16, 96 percent of the state’s corn acreage was mature.  Corn for silage was 96 percent harvested, while the corn for grain harvest was 24 percent complete, the same as last year and three days behind the five-year average. 

The average moisture of corn harvested for grain during the week was 21 percent, 3 percentage points lower than the previous week. 

 In Juneau County, corn stalks continued to deteriorate and some ears were starting fall off. "A good dry week will be very important to some producers," the reporter commented.

Statewide, corn was 85 percent in good to excellent condition, while soybean condition was rated 85 percent good to excellent.

The week ended with 92 percent of the state's potato crop harvested, seven days behind last year. Seventy percent of winter wheat was planted, seven days behind last year, and 43 percent had emerged, three days behind last year.

Farmers had taken 95 percent of their fourth cutting of alfalfa and finished 25 percent of fall tillage, lagging last year's plow mark of 34 percent and the five-year average of 26 percent.  

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.

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