Dry spell sets combines rolling across the state

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
A combine empties a load of soybeans into an awaiting grain cart in a field just off Highway 151 in the town of Waupun.

Combines were humming across much of the state as dry, sunny weather last week allowed farmers to get onto fields. While drizzle and scattered showers slowed field work on the weekend in some areas, farmers attacked soybean fields as grain moistures had fallen to favorable levels for storage, according to the US Department of Agriculture Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition report. 

Soybean yield reports were mixed, with some areas hurt by dry conditions in July and August. In Clark County, soybeans were yielding very well or below expectations, as some areas in the county had dry conditions that may have reduced yield, the reporter noted.

Comines "ran hard whenever they could" and got a lot of soybeans off last week in Shawano County also, the reporter said. The moisture range was 13 - 16 percent and yield was 50 - 70 bushels per acre. In Barron County, soybean yields were coming in around 35 - 55 bushels per acre. Soybeans were running well in Vernon County with moisture reported between 11.5 - 13.5 percent. 

Even though the ground was still wet and soft in Kewaunee County, there were quite a few acres of soybeans harvested. Yields were generally around 50 - 60 bushels per acre with moisture content in the 13 percent range, according to the report. 

However, in Trempealeau County, yields throughout the northern part of the county "are terrible due to the eight weeks without rain in July and August," the reporter said. Areas that had timely rains were showing good yields.

While harvesting soybeans was the priority last week, some corn was combined for grain in Shawano County with moisture in the 18-24 percent range, the reporter noted. 

"A number of combines got stuck in the neighborhood with the very wet field conditions," the Shawano reporter said. "Many farmers did not get winter wheat planted due to the wet fields."

According to the Kewaunee County reporter, "At this time of year, the corn really won't dry much from this point forward, so harvesting it now makes sense. However, the ground will be just as wet for the corn as it was for the soybeans, so getting the crop into the bin will require equipment that can handle mud."

Fall tillage and hauling manure in Kewaunee County will be more difficult because of the "extremely wet ground," the reporter said. "Some of this work may not get done at all this fall or will have to wait until the ground is frozen. And just about the time the ground was starting to dry a little, another round of rain fell this past weekend. In this area, nearly three-quarters of an inch fell, exactly what was not needed."

In Rock County, most fields have some wet spots where crops won't be harvested until the water table goes down, the reporter noted. "All have had stories of being stuck somewhere."

Corn harvested for grain was 46 percent complete last week, 11 days ahead of last year. Moisture content was reported at 20 percent across the state. 

Soybean harvest is still about a week behind schedule at 61 percent complete. 

Potato harvest is nearly complete as is the fourth cutting of alfalfa. Cranberry harvest in Portage County is almost done as well. 

Eighty-six percent of winter wheat was planted, six days behind last year, according to the report.

With harvesting finally moving along, fall tillage was reported at 30 percent complete, three days behind last year.