Farmers wrap up excellent harvest season

Carole Curtis

Madison — Thanksgiving punctuated the last full week of November with Wisconsin farmers grateful for an outstanding harvest season.

"It has been a great growing season ... one for the record books," the Barron County reporter said in the final  "Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report" of the year.

The 2016 season bowed out with 4.8 days of suitable weather for working the fields during the week ending Nov. 27. Temperatures rebounded as the weekend's cold front exited with nights above freezing, widespread rain and light snow contributing to thawed and muddy fields in some areas.

Farmers in Price and Taylor counties fought soggy conditions as they headed for the finish line. "The wet conditions create a challenge to fall tillage and emptying manure pits, but it's getting done," the reporter said.

Light snow fell on Ashland and Iron counties throughout the week, while areas close to Lake Superior got light drizzle. Florence and Forest counties got their first snow of the year with up to three inches falling in time for a scenic Thanksgiving dinner.

The week ended with topsoil moisture supplies at 3 percent short, 81 percent adequate and 16 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 2 percent short, 83 percent adequate and 15 percent surplus.

Fall fieldwork was winding down around the state with combining, manure spreading and tillage work mostly complete.

"It was  good weather for deer hunting, finishing up harvest and getting some fall tillage and nitrogen applied," the Juneau County reporter shared.

For the most part, every  producer in Kewaunee County was done with the 2016 harvest and tillage season.  "The weather has been favorable for getting some last minute tillage done, although even most of that is complete," the reporter said.

A few producers were still applying manure, while others were cleaning their equipment and putting it away for another year. Thanks to the warm weather, growers did not have to contend with turning frozen soil. "This has caused much less wear and tear on the tillage equipment," he observed.

By the last day of the Wisconsin gun deer hunt, fall tillage hit 86 percent complete statewide, two days ahead of last  year.

A small amount of corn was still standing, due to wet field conditions or lack of grain storage space.

Overall, corn  yields were very good for much of Wisconsin, the report noted, with the large harvest contributing to storage issues.

In Waupaca County, where most of the corn had cleared the fields, some producers were bringing in yields of near 200 bushels per acre.

Price and Taylor counties reported above average yields for all crops. "The grain elevators are looking for room for grain. The low crop prices are an incentive for farmers to store the grain they have rather than sell it below cost," the reporter said.

As of November 27, 96 percent of the state’s corn for grain had been harvested, two days ahead of last year. The average moisture of corn harvested for grain  was 17 percent, unchanged from the previous week.

Thanks to November's unusually warm weather, winter wheat is in excellent condition going into the winter. By week's end, 99 percent of the crop had emerged and earned a rating of 85 percent good to excellent.

in Rusk County, farmers enjoyed a quiet week for field activity with some rain, a holiday in the middle and slow-going throughout. The last of the corn was coming off slow, due to storage issues, and tillage was pretty slow, the reporter said.

"Winter is slow to set in this year," he observed.

In Sawyer County, where some corn stood waiting for the ground to freeze, the lack of snow allowed livestock to continue grazing on stockpiled grass pastures and corn stubble.

The "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.

It ended its 2016 run by thanking the many farmers, county agents and others that provided the information used to create an accurate weekly picture of Wisconsin agriculture.