Harvesting hits high speed with dry weather

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
Farmers were eager to chop hay following a wet spell in August.

Finally, farmers got a much-needed stint of dry weather, sending them to the fields as clear, sunny skies and above normal temperatures pushed crops quickly toward maturity. 

Conditions last week were excellent for haying as third and fourth crops moved closer to completion and corn silage chopping was progressing quickly with a few reports of high moisture grain harvest beginning, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition report.

It's looking more and more like fall as soybeans were drying down and losing leaves and even some combining starting in isolated areas, the report stated. Harvesting of potatoes, apples, pumpkins and fall vegetables added to the fall-like atmosphere across the state. 

"A warm and dry week last week moved crops along. Soybeans are drying down and some are close to harvest," the Rusk County reporter noted. "Corn silage is ongoing but no high moisture yet and, with prices where they are, dry corn will sit in the field as long as possible to minimize drying costs."

In Door County and Kewaunee County, corn is drying down very fast with recent dry downs showing about three-fourths to one point a day loss in moisture, according to the reporter. 

"Many are trying to get what appears to be a very nice fourth crop in while also trying to get silage harvested," the Door and Kewaunee reported said. "Conditions are perfect for harvest, so hopefully that continues for another couple of weeks."

In Shawano County, forage harvesters "were in the corn fields in every direction with lots of acres chopped off now," the reporter said. "There were even a couple of farmers that started doing high moisture corn, but most of the corn is not mature yet."

Some of the corn may be ready to harvest for dry grain before soybeans on the sandy ground, the Monroe County reported noted. 

However, some farmers are still dealing with post-storm cleanup.

Some corn for silage was taken off fields flattened by recent storms in Fond du Lac County, according to the report. Flooding cleanup is ongoing in Vernon County as farmers work hard to get third and fourth crop hay harvested, as well as corn silage. 

Corn and soybeans are drying down fast in Walworth County, but corn silage harvest is "still a muddy mess," the reported said. A few issues with Tar Spot fungus in corn were also noted. 

In Columbia County, water is receding along the Baraboo River, but crops under flood water are a total loss, the reporter noted. Along with all the water come the mosquitoes, which are "back with a vengeance throughout the county."

The same held true in Portage County where the reporter said, "Mosquitoes are in peak and biting hard."

While pastures in Trempealeau County  have benefited from recent rainfall, several incidents of acorn poisoning were reported, according to the Trempealeau reporter. 

"Oak trees are aborting their acorns due to the drought conditions. Cattle find these tasty but are unable to digest them as they contain tannic acid," explained the Trempealeau reporter. "The four reported deaths were 500 pound beef calves, but the owner observed cows also 'vacuuming up' the acorns. Cattle were removed from this pasture."

Corn is at 96 percent at dough stage and 82 percent dented, both 10 days ahead of last year. Thirty-six percent of corn across the state was mature, eight days ahead of last year. Corn for silage was reported at 37 percent harvested, six days ahead of average.

Soybean leaves turning color were at 78 percent last week, seven days ahead of last year and 37 percent were reported dropping leaves, six days ahead of last year. Soybean harvest is just getting underway, according to the report. 

Ninety-seven percent of oats were reported harvested last week, even with last year. 

Alfalfa third cutting was at 96 percent complete, eight days behind last year and fourth cutting was 65 percent complete, three days ahead of last year. 

Winter wheat planting was reported at 23 percent complete, one day ahead of last year, and 8 percent of the winter wheat crop has emerged, two days ahead of last year. 

Potato harvest was reported as 42 percent complete, two days behind last year.

All crop conditions were reported between 73 and 77 percent good to excellent.