Cold blast keeps Wisconsin temperatures in single digits

Associated Press
The cold snap is a bit of good news and bad news for farmers. The bitter cold has allowed farmers to enter unharvested fields that were to wet to drive in. Unfortunately, the wet grain may need more propane to dry, which is already in high demand across the Midwest.

MILWAUKEE (AP) – An icy airmass moving through Wisconsin is keeping temperatures in the single digits with additional snow forecast for parts of the state.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for Vilas County in northern Wisconsin where 3 to 6 inches of additional snow was expected Tuesday. Monday's snowfall dumped 5.8 inches in the southeastern community of Wind Point and 3.7 inches in Milwaukee.

Temperatures slid below zero in the southern Wisconsin city of Elkhorn early Tuesday where it was minus 1.

Overnight warming shelters opened for the first time this year in Milwaukee Monday night, the earliest opening that one organizer can recall. Capuchin Community Services director Robert Wotypka tells WISN-TV that last year they didn't open until around Dec. 20.

A second cold snap has put a wrench into many corn producers' plans, making it more difficult to dry corn, thanks delays in delivering propane. A late, wet harvest, attributing to wet grain has increased the demand for the fuel used to dry corn at elevators and dryers at larger farms.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig told The Des Moines Register that the demand on the supply system during the last week to 10 days has been tremendous.

"It's really created a supply pinch," Naig said, adding that nearly every bushel of corn needs to be dried.

The corn crop's late maturity means it had less time than usual to dry in the field. Corn normally should have about 15-17% moisture, officials said. But the average for corn currently being harvested is 21%. It could spoil if not dried.

The good news, however, is that colder temperatures have firmed up the soil in farm fields where thousands of acres of corn remain unharvested. Until this hard frost, many farmers in the Midwest were unable to enter fields in order to bring in the corn crop, which is already more than two weeks behind schedule.

Temperatures dipping into the 20s and 30s this week also mean more propane is needed to heat homes and livestock facilities.

Colleen Kottke from the WIsconsin State Farmer contributed to this report.