Harvest moves forward despite wet soil conditions

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer

Despite the wet conditions out in the fields, farmers were able to get back out on the land last week to harvest corn and soybeans until the rain moved in again over the weekend.

Farmers were still struggling with wet soil conditions, with soil compaction and rutting being widely reported around the state, according to the USDA's National Agriculture Statistics Service report ending Nov. 4, 2018.

Sunday's rains only made that bad situation worse, said a field reporter from Calumet County. 

Wet soil conditions slowed farm machinery down in the fields, also resulting in soil compaction and big ruts.

"Producers are now looking for a freeze without snow to finish up their harvest," the reporter noted.

Corn harvested for grain was at 59 percent complete with moisture levels for corn harvested for grain at 20 percent. The soybean harvest, which is about a week behind schedule, was about 78 percent complete.

"It was nice to see combines rolling all week until the rain hit," said the reporter from Sauk County, adding that soybean yields were "a little disappointing" in some areas.

Although the potato harvest was reported at 98 percent complete, a reporter from Columbia/Jefferson County noted that some producers gave up, leaving around 180 acres unharvested.

Over in LaCrosse County where summer flooding devastated western and southwest Wisconsin, some soybean fields were beyond saving, due to mud and debris left behind.

Rains also hampered the planting of winter wheat, with 92 percent being reported as completed. Nearly three-quarters of the crop has emerged.

Farmers raced against the weather last week, trying to get as much corn and soybeans harvested until wet weather moved in again.

Fall tillage is a full week behind with just 37 percent completed.

Last week farmers in Rusk County watched as 3 inches of snow covered their fields. That now, however, quickly melted. Snow moving in to the area this week and into the middle of next week may stick around a bit longer.

The National Weather Service said the most significant weather system will move in over the weekend, bringing light snow and flurries to much of the area. There's a great chance for snow in eastern Wisconsin where weather systems over Lake Michigan and the Ohio River Valley converge, possibly resulting in several inches of snow.

A low pressure system moving in on Sunday could also produce some light snow or flurries but has little moisture to work with. The best chance for snow is expected in the northern area of the state.