Fieldwork advances with cold, dry weather

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

Across the state, combines could be seen working to get corn off the field and moving clouds of dust indicated soybean harvesting as light precipitation last week allowed farmers onto fields to try and bring in the last of their harvest, despite below normal temperatures. 

Overnight lows fell into the teen and single digits in some areas and muddy fields firmed considerably as the ground started to freeze, particularly in northern Wisconsin, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition report. Even with colder temps, the frost was still shallow in many areas, making field treacherous for heavy machinery and fully loaded grain wagons. 

Anywhere from a trace to about an inch of snow fell last Friday and Saturday, hampering combining for some, while partially frozen soils interfered with fall tillage and manure spreading for others.

"Cold temperatures and snow affected field work this week," the Barron County reporter noted. "Crop residue and snow cover has kept the frost out of the ground, but standing crops (corn and soybeans) allowed frost to penetrate deep enough to carry combines. Some tillage and manure injection into fields with no frost, but freezing temps have affected all operations in one way or another."

Shawano County had very cold temperatures, which froze the ground considerably, allowing farmers to run combines on fields that were saturated. 

"We were able to get a lot of corn off that would have been almost impossible without the frost." said the Shawano County reporter. "There was also a day or two suitable for getting the last of the soybeans off with moisture in the 13-15 percent range. A fair amount of tillage was also done when the frost was beginning to set in."

In Trempealeau County farmers struggled to keep harvest rolling between the cold and the snow. Dryer inefficiency with the cold temperatures "adds insult to the cost of corn production," the reporter said. 

There are still soybeans on some fields in Adams and Juneau counties, but it's not know if it will be harvested yet, according to the report. 

While the cold and lack of precipitation helped Calumet County producers to wrap up soybean harvest and get some corn combined, the snow hindered harvest for some in Ozaukee and Sheboygan counties. 

Farmers in Vernon County are still talking about putting in cover crops. 

"Not sure how they will turn out when it is this late in the season," the reporter noted.