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Wisconsin gets soaked

Oct. 24, 2012 | 0 comments



Thirsty Wisconsin soils soaked up the rain that lavished much of the state last week.

"It rained," the reporter from Marathon County rejoiced in the Oct. 22 issue of the "Wisconsin Crop Progress Report", adding harvest has come to a standstill with the 2.25 inches of liquid sunshine received during the week.

According to the report created with input from farm reporters and county ag agents across the state, precipitation totals for the week ending Oct. 21 at 7 a.m. ranged from 2.64 inches in Green Bay down to 0.05 inches in Eau Claire.

Washington County welcomed 3.5 inches, while Dodge County reported a good four inches of rain over the last two weeks.

Although the moisture came down heavy in spots, the dry ground put it to good use. Soil moisture levels rose to 55 percent short or very short, much better than the 79 percent short or very short reported the previous week.

Another inch of rain fell on Waushara County, making for increased lodging in the remaining corn fields. "The subsoil should be pretty well soaked up with a total of around six inches of soaking-type rain," the reporter said, noting the moisture has plumped up soybeans that shattered on the ground and they are now very evident.

As Wood County enjoyed a nice break with steady rainfall that soaked in nicely, the reporter joked that he’d even heard a few people complain about the wet weather.

As fall-planted crops, hay stands and trees benefited from the moisture, so much rain fell in eastern and central Wisconsin that the ground was too wet for fieldwork.

Unfortunately, the storms skipped past the northwest district. There, soil moistures read 93 percent short or very short.

It was skimpy in Dunn County, allowing the corn harvest to continue full force. "The rain that was received this week wasn’t enough to even make a puddle in the yard," the reporter remarked.

The sub-soil moisture in Pierce County is considered very low for mid-to-late fall. Alfalfa stands on eroded areas of fields look pretty tough, the reporter said.

In other areas, the rain slowed harvest and tillage over the 3.8 days deemed suitable for fieldwork. "It’s too wet," the reporter from Outagamie County observed.

In Kewaunee County, the rain started falling 10 days prior and since then, the weather hasn’t been conducive for harvest. "The ground is very wet and mud is almost everywhere," the reporter said. "This is such a change from just a few weeks ago."

Winter wheat in the area is emerging, but some areas have been drowned out. Farmers still looking to plant winter wheat or harvest the rest of their beans will be challenged by the rain falling almost every other day, he said.

In Florence County, rain fell early in the week with scattered showers daily. "Even with the moisture we have had, germination of winter grains is slow," the reporter shared, while lots of winter wheat is reportedly greening up in Washington County.

Pastures also enjoyed the rain, with the amount of land in poor or very poor condition improving to 73 percent last week, compared to 78 percent the prior week.

Vernon County got between one-two inches of rain and is looking forward to more. Farmers are working on corn and soybean harvest whenever possible, the reporter said, and some producers have started bailing soybean fodder.

The week was a bit chilly, with average temperatures marked three degrees below to two degrees above normal. Average high temperatures ranged from 57 to 60 degrees, while average low temperatures ranged from 36 to 44 degrees.

La Crosse bounced from a high of 72 degrees to a low of 28, while Eau Claire dipped to 25 degrees.

It was a great week for harvesting corn and soybeans in Barron County, where many producers are harvesting corn stalks and rolling them into big round bales or big squares.

By week’s end, 66 percent of the state’s corn grain crop had been harvested, far above last year’s mark of 33 percent and easily doubling the five-year average of 31 percent.

While the northern parts of the state reported better-than-expected yields, the report said readings from elsewhere told of poorer-than-average yields with large variations depending on local conditions.

In Kewaunee County, the yield of the corn coming off the fields has been quite impressive. "It is very common to see 150 to 200 bushels per acre," the reporter said. "In this area, these numbers don’t happen often, so everyone is happy."

Moisture content has been in the range of 15-20 percent and test weights around 56 pounds per bushel. "This is on top of great yields for soybeans, too," he added, crediting the little rain that fell over the summer coming at just the right time and the crops really responding.

Washington County reported corn yields from 20-100 bushels to the acre depending on the soil. In Marathon County, as long as rain was received, corn and soybeans are busheling well, that reporter noted.

As the third week of October ended, most Wisconsin soybean growers were wrapping up for the year with 94 percent of the crop off. For comparison, last year’s mark on Oct. 21 was 77 percent harvested and the five-year average is 62 percent.

The fifth cutting of hay was 74 percent harvested, but the crop was spotty, reporters said, with below average yields.

In Kewaunee County, farmers are reportedly on pace to be nearly done with all their fieldwork by early November.

Statewide, fall tillage was 37 percent complete, compared to the five-year average of 26 percent, and liquid manure applications were going on. Fall tillage will be much easier now with the added moisture, reporters noted.

The cranberry harvest was nearly done in Sawyer and Oneida counties, and was still underway in Portage County.

The weekly "Wisconsin Crop Progress Report" is a cooperative effort of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection and the National Weather Service.

It is produced at National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Wisconsin field office under the direction of Robert Battaglia.

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