First snow fall on Wisconsin fields
— It sure was nice while it lasted.
This fall's lovely stretch of warm, clear weather continued last week with daytime highs ranging from the 50s into the low 70s. That ended abruptly on Friday when a cold snap swept across the state, bringing strong winds, plunging temperatures and the first snows of the season.
Temperatures dropped into the 20s and 30s and northern Wisconsin went white. Between 3-5 inches of snow fell on the western sections of the Bayfield/Douglas counties, although areas close to Lake Superior and the rest of the state received trace amounts with no accumulation.
The "Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report" for the week ending Nov. 21 said this first period of sub-freezing temperatures meant the ground was starting to freeze in some places, while wet spots in others continued to interfere with fieldwork.
The week ended with topsoil moisture supplies rated 81 percent adequate and 16 percent surplus, with subsoil moisture supplies at 83 percent adequate and 15 percent surplus.
All told, it was a good week with 6.4 days of decent field-working weather that allowed farmers to make good progress. "Growers were rushing to finish harvest before deer season," the Barron County reporter said, with lots of corn pulled off and most of the soybeans.
Combining was going well around the state, although grain elevators in many locations were full and storage space was a major limiting factor in finishing up the corn harvest.
"Corn was coming off the field, but some elevators are getting full and there are some delays as grain is getting moved to make room for the last of the 2016 crop," the Clark County reporter said.
Storage was also an issue in Wood County. "Yields have been great, grain elevators are full and it is a challenge to find storage for corn and soybeans," that reporter shared.
In Rock County, the corn harvest would be complete if there was a place to go with the grain. Elevators have filled up.
The second day of the 2016 gun deer hunt began with 92 percent of the state’s corn for grain harvested, two days ahead of last year and 11 days ahead of the five-year average. The average moisture of the grain corn was 17 percent, down a percentage point from the previous week.
Farmers had also finished off 98 percent of the soybeans harvest, pulling even with the five-year average.
Buffalo County farmers were enjoying the situation. "Good conditions for field work over the last few weeks have contributed to a timely harvest, and the upcoming cold will be welcome to firm up wet subsoil," that reporter commented.
The harvest yields were good, he added, especially on corn fields rotated from soybeans the year before.
Statewide, farmers were busy spreading manure, baling corn stalks and cleaning up machinery for winter storage.
In La Crosse County, harvesting continued right up to the freeze on Saturday, then deer hunting took over.
"Many farmers are now cleaning their equipment and putting it away for the winter," the local reporter noted. "There are a few fields left and rumors that corn and beans left in the field at this time will remain there, due to the wet fields and more than adequate rain fall this fall."
In Ozaukee and Washington counties, there were only a few fields of corn left to harvest. "Most producers have gotten their crops off and are winding down for the winter," the reporter said.
In Fond du Lac County, harvests were complete and farmers had refocused their efforts on baling up bedding, applying manure and tillage. "By and large, field operations have wrapped up for the season," the reporter said.
By Nov. 20, 77 percent of the state's fall tillage was complete, two days behind last year, but a good five days ahead of average.
In the state's wheat fields, 95 percent of the crop had emerged, slightly behind last year, and earned a rating of 83 percent good to excellent.
In Clark County, where fall field work was also winding down and most of the manure pits were empty, a switch in activities was suggested. "Now would be a good time to think about pruning your fruit trees, while the weather is favorable", the reporter observed.
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.