Unseasonably cold weather slows drydown

Colleen Kottke
Editor/Wisconsin State Farmer

MADISON - Unseasonably cold weather put a damper on fieldwork across central and northwest Wisconsin as farmers labored to bring this year's harvest to a close.

A farmer steers his combine into a corn field along a rural byway in Juneau County.

While most of the corn and soybean fields were bare in Kewaunee County, farmers in other parts of the state struggled against the elements including snow and temperatures dipping into single digits.

"Below freezing temperatures and even a night below zero last week prevented crops from drying much. Soybeans are wet (19-20 percent) from the last rain/winter mix...thus farmers are having to dry soybeans just to get them harvested," the Burnett/Washburn County reporter said in the  "Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report" for the week ending Nov. 12.

Many reporters observed that corn moistures were "all over the place" ranging from 17 to 30+ percent. Some farmers debated whether to leave crops in the field and take a chance on Mother Nature doing the drying or spending more money on LP to do the job.

"At this time some farmers will have to decide to spend money on LP or take a chance with our winter weather," said the Clark County reporter. "Give your corn stalks a lean test to determine stalk strength before deciding to leave it in the field."

Corn harvested for grain was 56 percent complete, with moisture averaging around 21 percent. Soybean harvest was reported at 92 percent complete, a week behind last year.

Semi tankers filled with manure rolled up and down rural roads across Wisconsin last week.

The soil was reportedly beginning to freeze in some areas, allowing access to soft fields but hampering tillage and manure incorporation.

In Kewaunee County, a lot of manure was applied to fields in the past week, and more scheduled for application this week.

"With low temperatures and a stiff wind, there was 3-4 inches of frost for plows to have to go through. The snow made for slippery conditions too," the local reporter noted. "The way fall fieldwork is progressing, it should nearly be done by Thanksgiving."