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Crop report returns as fall freezes over

Oct. 24, 2013 | 0 comments


The wonderfully warm start to October ended last week as clouds rolled in, temperatures plunged and cold rain fell.

"I have never seen a killing frost as late as Oct. 18 in Langlade County," a reporter shared in the Oct. 21 "Wisconsin Crop Progress Report", which reappeared Monday after a two-week absence due to a lapse in federal funding.

According to the report, temperatures for the first two weeks of the month averaged 3-6 degrees above normal.

The unusual stint of the late season heat helped late-planted crops to mature, although reporters in the state-wide network of contributors said the lack of killing frost has kept plants from drying down and rains have kept plant moistures high and fields muddy.

Last week, temperatures averaged three degrees below normal to normal and rain dampened the number of days suitable for fieldwork statewide down to four.

The western half of the state had a freeze over the weekend, the report said, while much of the east received frost. In the far north, snow showers were reported on Sunday.

For the week, average high temperatures ranged from 54-58 degrees, while average lows ranged from 35-43 degrees. Eau Claire dipped to 31 degrees as thermometers read 32 degrees in Madison, 33 in Green Bay, and 34 in La Crosse.

Precipitation totals included 0.29 inches in Milwaukee and between 0.90 and 1.3 inches in Eau Claire. Precipitation was above average in Oneida County with 1.45 inches reported.

Over the past two weeks, Dane County has tallied between 0.6-0.7 inches of rain, while two full inches of "nice, gentle" rain fell on St. Croix County and three inches was measured in Washington County.

Last week, two inches of rain fell in Burnett County as small showers, topping off with a frost on Friday night. In Langlade County, farmers were fighting snow showers on Sunday.

"Now that the growing season is over, we are getting rain on a regular basis, just like last year," the Sauk County reporter observed. "Pastures have greened up. There is more out there than August or September."

The county had its killing frost, although the reporter noted it was later than the last couple of years. "Looking back in 20 years, this will look like a normal year," he commented.

The first frost of the season was recorded in La Crosse County where, the reporter said, corn and beans are still green or high moisture, making them unable to be harvested.

In Rusk County, where it frosted back in mid-September, a widespread killer frost hit during the week. "The corn crop is not good due to late planting," that reporter said.

Farmers busy harvesting corn silage

Across the state, farmers were busy harvesting corn silage, high moisture corn and soybeans where conditions allowed. Yields were listed as variable.

Marathon County reported the corn that was planted for silage in May and June has good quality and quantity, while corn planted later is greener with variable forage value.

"There is lots of corn and soybeans out there to harvest," the reporter added.

Waukesha County was about two weeks late with harvest. "It’s been a slow start due to the very wet spring," that reporter said.

In Juneau County, where yields varied greatly for corn and soybeans, farmers had "a very good couple weeks" to harvest.

The past week also gave Columbia County above normal temperatures and dry conditions that provided "some great soybean and shelled corn harvest conditions" before a killing frost on Saturday night spelled the end of the growing season for many areas of the county.

Statewide, the corn crop was 97 percent in the dent stage and 79 percent mature, compared to the five-year average of 100 percent dented and 91 percent mature.

By week’s end, growers had harvested 27 percent of corn for grain and 83 percent of the corn silage, compared to the five-year average of 35 percent of corn for grain and 95 percent of corn silage.

In Langlade County, corn silage moistures are finally getting to the chopping stage, the reporter said, adding quality and yields are good. A killing frost had yet to hit Manitowoc County, where harvesting machinery was moving into corn silage that was planted in late May and early June.

Unirrigated corn in Waushara County was starting to lodge as a result of the summer’s dry weather, and corn yields were coming in below average in Fond du Lac County.

"The best corn was in August. After that, it dried right up", the reporter said, noting the test weight average should be 150. It came in at 126.


Over half of soybeans harvested

In the state’s bean fields, 99 percent of soybeans were turning leaves, 92 percent were dropping leaves and 53 percent had been harvested.

The five-year average stood at 100 percent with leaves turned, 100 percent dropping leaves and 68 percent harvested.

In Fond du Lac County, where 3.5 inches of rain has fallen during the last two weeks, soybeans were too wet for harvest.

The harvest was underway in nearby Manitowoc County, with yield reports between 42 and 56 bushels per acre.

In Eau Claire County, where normal yields would be 55-60 bushels of beans per acre, yields were averaging around 43 bushels per acre.

Rusk County beans were averaging only about 30 bushels per acre, whereas a good average would be 45-50 bushels per acre.

Other fall work undwerway

On Oct. 20, 84 percent of fourth cutting alfalfa had been harvested. Reporters noted that the rain and warm start to the month helped pastures and hay stands prepare for winter.

Farmers had completed 23 percent of fall tillage by Oct. 20, close on the heels of the five-year average of 27 percent.]

While soil moistures were much better for fall planting than at the beginning of the month, the report said, the late harvest was prompting some concern for prevented fall plantings.

The potato harvest was wrapping up in Portage County, winter wheat was up and looking great in Rock County, and pears and apples were reportedly abundant and of good quality.

In Sauk County, the pickings were described as "bountiful, making up for last year’s short crop."

Cranberries were also being harvested with average-good yields.

In Oneida County, where the week featured some very windy days and a couple of frosty nights, the cold weather helped ripen the cranberries and push the vines into dormancy.

"We had an above average cranberry crop this year, with average size and color on most varieties," the reporter shared.

The weekly "Wisconsin Crop Progress 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 is compiled at the Wisconsin field office in Madison by state statistician Greg Bussler.

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