Wet, muddy, rutted fields = farmer frustration

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
A combine harvests a field of soybeans north of Oakfield before the snowy weather moved into the area this week.

Rain started last week off on the wrong foot for Wisconsin producers dealing with already high soil moisture. But with winter ready to charge in, farmers had little choice but to harvest corn and soybeans in spite of poor field conditions. 

Rutting, soil compaction and stuck machinery were widespread across the state as farmers battled relentless mud according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition report for the week ending Oct. 27. 

The growing season ended across much of the state as overnight lows fell into the low 20s at the end of the week.

Trempeauleau County got soaked with 2 - 3 inches of rain early in the week and had a hard freeze on Oct. 24. The sun cam out the following day, however, and soybean harvesting was able to begin again, according to the report. 

Rusk County received 1 - 3 inches of rain last week keeping farmers out of fields for another week or two, the farm reporter noted. 

Farmers in St. Croix County were very frustrated that they haven't been able to get in the fields. 

Last week started "frustratingly we" in Barron County, but by midweek field operations were in full swing, the farm reporter said. Lots of soybeans were coming off under 20% moisture, corn silage chopping was wrapping up and some high moisture corn grain was being taken. There were even some dry corn grain reports. 

"Very little fall tillage and many scrambling to get manure pits down, so lots of manure being spread," said the Barron County reporter. 

Mother Nature has been throwing obstacles into the paths of farmers anxious to get a crop in this fall. Unfortunately wet field conditions stopped this silage chopping expedition in its tracks on this Shawano County farm this weekend.

The story of corn silage harvest in Shawano County was one of mud and deep ruts.

"Tillage will be a nightmare with all the deep ruts in the fields," said the farm reporter. 

Shawano County has also seen white mold hitting some fields hard. Soybeans are coming off the field at 14-18% moisture with yield varying from 15-70 bushels per acre, according to the report. 

In Vernon County soybeans and corn silage harvest have been able to progress between bouts of rain on and off during the week. 

"Farmers are anxious due to the delay in harvest and are hoping for some more dry days," the reporter said. 

"Heading into the final week of October, field work is progressing at a slower rate than desired," the Kewaunee County reporter said. "The wet soil continues to cause problems, from machines getting stuck, to contributing to higher moisture for the grain, to making it difficult to get any tillage done. There was some marginally good weather to get some of the soybeans harvested, but the moisture was on the higher side, mainly from 15 to 17%. However, many producers are tired of waiting and just want to get the beans off, regardless of the test weight or moisture."

Yields in Kewaunee County are "substantially less" than last year ranging around 30 - 45 bushels per acre. Not much corn has been harvested for grain, but that is expected to get underway in November. 

The extremely wet conditions in Kewaunee County have made for messy roads and vehicles. 

"Manure still has to be applied, another job that will be difficult because of the wet soil," the Kewaunee County reporter said. "Putting manure onto soil that is already saturated could cause the manure to go down into places where it shouldn't."

In southern Wisconsin, the Dane County reporter noted standing water in a lot of fields. In Ozaukee and Washington counties, fall crops weren't going in very quickly or at all because the soil was too wet to get the soybeans off or the moisture content is too high. 

Across the state, corn grain moisture content at harvest averaged 27% for the week compared to 20% last year. Harvest of corn for grain was 13% complete, 21 days behind last year.

Soybean harvest was 46% complete, four days behind last year and 11 days behind the average, according to the USDA report. 

Dairies are racing to empty manure pits as fields are cleared. 

Carol Spaeth-Bauer at 262-875-9490 or Follow her on Twitter at cspaethbauer or Facebook at