Harvesting moving slow and muddy across much of Wisconsin

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
Dust fills the air as this combine harvests a field of dry soybeans in Dodge County.

Below normal temperatures, below-freezing nights, blustery winds and a mix of clear and cloudy skies, with rain and snow thrown in at the end of the week, painted a picture where highly saturated fields across the state improved enough to allow field work to proceed.

The snowy, cold and windy weather hampered harvest efforts in Clark, Price and Taylor counties, according to the USDA Crop Progress and Condition Report, with pooling in some fields still at the end of the week. There was a lot of grain taken off toward the end of the week, but "lots yet to go," the reporter stated. 

"Growers are beginning to harvest well-drained fields, but with abundant surface and subsoil moisture, any rain brings most everyone to a halt," said Waupaca County UW-Extension Ag Agent Greg Blonde. 

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Fieldwork hit a weather delay in Shawano County, as well where soybeans were over 15 percent moisture, so farmers were waiting for dry down. Some corn was at 20 percent moisture, the reporter noted, but the "fields are just too wet yet."

While the crop report indicated corn for silage 96 percent harvested, fieldwork resumed last Tuesday in Manitowoc County as late corn silage was being chopped. Combines rolled into Manitowoc County soybean fields with some reports of 55 to 70 bushel per acre, the reporter noted. Even so, soil conditions are saturated in places with machinery leaving ruts in fields when harvesting. 

"Yield is average to above average for most fields with big ears (16-18 rows/cob and 30 plus kernels/row) and big kernels pushing numbers above average in many fields," Blonde noted for Waupaca County. "Ear quality is also good for the most part, little if any tar spot or ear mold being reported."  

Related:Be aware of grain quality during this harvest

Bayfield and Douglas counties had a fairly dry week last week, with some corn for grain harvested but mostly high moisture corn for oxygen sealed silos, the reported said. 

In Green County, harvesting was slow, wet and muddy as farmers need sunshine and warmth to dry fields. The reporter noted corn and soybean "stand-ability is decreasing daily."

"Stalk quality/stand-ability may become more of a concern the longer corn harvest is delayed," Blonde added. 

With these reports, it's not surprising that topsoil moisture across the state was rated at 76 percent adequate and 24 percent surplus and subsoil at 74 percent adequate and 26 percent surplus.

USDA Reporters noted standing water on low ground and many farmers were harvesting around wet spots. 

Some wheat and rye was seeded last week in Green County, but across the state 75 percent of winter wheat has been planted, a week behind last year. 

Corn maturity, at 96 percent, was 18 days ahead of last year. Corn harvested for grain was 31 percent complete, 11 days ahead of last year. Moisture content of corn harvested for grain across the state was reported at 21 percent.

Soybean harvesting was 10 days behind last year at 36 percent complete. 

Fourth cutting of alfalfa was moving along, now at 93 percent complete across the state, three weeks behind last year.

Fall tillage is lagging about a week, reported at 20 percent complete.