Corn harvest slowed by soggy conditions
Apple picking was in full swing, roadside stands brimmed with colorful produce and processing vegetables were nearly all picked, but Wisconsin's corn silage and hay harvests were throttled back by wet conditions last week.
As intermittent rains trimmed the days farmers could work their fields down to 4.7, mild temperatures and cloudy skies made for conditions that were less than ideal for drying out muddy fields, the "Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report" for the week ending Sept. 19 said.
The corn silage harvest was underway in Vernon County, but producers were having difficulty with corn and hay due to poor field condition."Cloudy with cooler temps this week did not dry out the fields much," the reporter said. "Unfortunately, more rain is predicted in the upcoming week."
On Sept. 19, the state's topsoil moisture supplies were rated 21 percent surplus, while subsoil moisture supplies were 17 percent surplus.
Corn and soybeans were maturing rapidly and farmers in Dane, Marinette and Oconto counties were among those chopping corn silage, the report said, but grain moistures in many areas remained too high for combining.
In Waupaca County, corn silage was coming off fields that were not too wet to bear the harvest equipment, but not much was happening in La Crosse County, where 6.5 inches of rain have fallen since the first of the month. "It has definitely put a damper on harvesting anything," that reporter said.
Clouds to start the day turn to sun late in the day, he noted, while sun early in the day turns to rain overnight. "Either way, people are apprehensive about the weather and that makes it difficult to plan the day. But this too shall pass."
As of September 18, 90 percent of Wisconsin's corn was dented, eight days ahead of last year, and 11 days ahead of the average. Forty-nine percent of corn was reported mature, four days ahead of last year and three days ahead of the average.
The soggy situation was raising concerns in Kewaunee County. "This could be an issue going forward, especially for the harvest of the corn silage and the soybeans," the local reporter said. "At this time of year, the ground dries out much more slowly than it does in the middle of summer."
The excess rain will also affect the planting of the winter wheat. "Not much has been planted so far, and if conditions remain as wet as they are, some may not get planted due to the soil being too wet," he added.
As the state's corn for grain harvest kicked off, 48 percent of corn for silage was harvested, six days ahead of last year and five days ahead of the average. The report rated the crop's condition as 88 percent good to excellent.
In Rusk County, the corn silage harvest continued with farmers reporting good quality and quantity.
In Door County, the wet weather worked in farmers' favor and the corn silage was coming off fast. "The corn was drying down fast, but a rain ranging between 0.5 and 1 inch early in the week slowed the dry down enough for farmers to continue getting corn off at the right moisture," the reporter relayed.
Farmers in Ashland and Iron counties made very little silage harvest progress because of the rain-soaked fields. "Some corn fields are very uneven, excellent corn and poor corn can be found in the same field," the area reporter observed.
In Clark County, corn silage was going into bunkers and bags, with uptight silos beginning to be filled. "Some fields of corn are showing top die back, which may be the result of disease or the corn is becoming fully mature and in dry down mode," the reporter noted.
Soybeans were turning color on 89 percent of the state’s acreage, five days ahead of last year and eight days ahead of the average. Fifty percent of soybeans were dropping leaves, five days ahead of last year. Soybean condition was rated 85 percent good to excellent.
Forty-nine percent of potatoes were harvested statewide. Potato condition was rated 89 percent good to excellent.
As the last full week of summer rolled across the state, some planting, manure hauling and fall tillage got underway in fields that have been harvested.
By week's end, 18 percent of winter wheat was planted, three days ahead of last year, with 4 percent emerged. Fall tillage finished the week at 4 percent complete.
Farmers also finished off 80 percent of the fourth cutting of alfalfa, eight days ahead of last year and twelve ahead of the average. In Kewaunee County, a few producers were working on their fourth cutting, but many in the area were reportedly not taking the crop.
Statewide, pasture condition was rated 78 percent good to excellent.
The weekly “Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report” is a cooperative effort of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the National Weather Service.