Cold snap brings snow, slows harvest - again

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
Weather slowed fall harvest last week with a couple inches of snow dumped on unharvested fields across the state.

With harvesting about three-quarters complete in most areas of the state, Mother Nature continued her relentless pressure on farmers trying to finish fall harvest. 

Heavy rain at the start of the week turned to snow as a cold snap settled over the state, leaving farmers only a few days to get off as much corn and soybeans as possible. Temperatures well below normal — in the 20s and 30s for daytime highs — and 2 inches of snow last Friday with flurries throughout the weekend, kept fieldwork progress slow, according to the U. S. Department of Agriculture Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition report. 

High winds and sun cleared the ground in southern Wisconsin though and freezing temperatures started to firm the soil. However, lingering snow cover in northern Wisconsin worsened already poor field conditions, insulating the mud and sticking to standing crops, according to the crop report. 

"Considerable acres of soybeans" couldn't be harvested in Green County as progress slowed last week. Some corn was harvested, but soil conditions remained wet, according to the report. 

Snow last week caused some farmers across the state to give up on the idea of fourth crop hay.

Rain on Sunday stopped all field work in Clark County where a lot of corn and soybeans are still on the fields and have to wait until the ground freezes to get crops harvested.

The story was the same across the state.

Rain in Shawano County made fields difficult to maneuver in.

"A hard freeze firmed the ground up, but significant snowfalls took the frost out again," the Shawano reporter said. "The snow also stayed on the corn so that we could not combine it at these temperatures."

In Fond du Lac and Washington counties, field work ground to a halt with 1.70 inches of rain between Nov. 4 - 6. 

"The inch or two of snow that fell on the 9th hasn't really complicated things more," the reporter noted. "The significant corn and bean acreage still in need of harvest will have to wait until the ground freezes deep enough to let the equipment pass over. With high temps running 15 degrees below normal this might be sooner rather than later."

Many farmers had to abandon harvesting fourth crop hay, due to timing of corn silage harvest and the very wet fall, according to the the Kewaunee and Door County reporter.

"Some of them had to make the call and harvest it during the last two weeks to help with inventories," the reporter said. "We'll see how the winter treats those fields, but they're expecting to take hay out in the spring if they need to. Corn and soybean harvest continues very slowly with rainfall nearly every day."

Lots of corn fodder was harvested for bedding in St. Croix County. Manure application took place in Eau Claire County as many storage units are reaching maximum capacity. Some producers in Vernon County were still trying to plant some cover crops. 

Fall harvest and tillage picked up where soil conditions allowed equipment to operate in Outagamie and Waupaca counties. Farmers in Sawyer County joined many others across the state waiting for the ground to freeze to harvest remaining standing corn and beans.