By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Despite wet weather, big harvest on track
Cut corn stalks stand in a pool of water near a section left to be cut in a field along Ullom Road near Browntown Wednesday. (Times photo: Anthony Wahl)
MONROE - Despite recent delays due to rainfall, fall harvest is looking as if it could produce some of the best yields on record in a generation for Green County farmers.

"Overall this has been one of the best years I've seen for crop production in Green County," said Mark Mayer, the University of Wisconsin-Extension agriculture agent for the county.

"However, the down side this year is that many of the commodity prices are 25-40 percent lower than the past three-year average, leaving farmers with very slim profit margins despite the high yields," he added.

"We've been fortunate to not have had a killing frost (28 degrees Fahrenheit for at least four hours) in the area yet," Mayer said. "We are also fortunate that almost all of our corn and beans have reached maturity at this point and will not be negatively impacted by a hard frost."

The average first frost date is Oct. 5 for Green County.

Corn and soybean harvests across Wisconsin are behind schedule, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and this week's wet weather is keeping farmers from catching up. Crop progress data released by the department Tuesday show both corn and soybeans fall short of the five-year averages, the La Crosse Tribune reported. The report found that Wisconsin corn is in worse shape, with two-thirds of crops at maturity, behind an 80 percent average. The state usually has a quarter of its corn crop harvested by mid-October, according to the USDA, but less than 10 percent has been harvested so far.

The report also found soybean crop maturity is 2 percent behind the five-year average. Forty percent of the crop has been harvested, compared to a 53 percent average.

Steve Huntzicker, a University of Wisconsin Extension agriculture agent, said recent rainfall is to blame for the harvest holdup.

"The rain has certainly slowed things down," he said. "Farmers are hoping to pick up again by the weekend or early next week."


Mayer reported Sunday local farmers took advantage of several days of dry weather and had harvested several thousand acres of beans in the county since Oct. 6. The soybean harvest in Green County was up to 40 percent complete versus the 25 percent four days earlier.

The soybean harvest has started with yields of about 51 bushels per acre, much higher than the county normal annual average (a five-year average with drought year 2012 removed), according to Mayer. Soybeans vary a great deal in maturity this year due to many fields being planted later because of wet soil conditions in the spring. Some fields were harvested in early October, but other fields may not be ready until the middle of the month.

Wisconsin soybean production is forecast at 80.1 million bushels, a 33 percent increase from the previous year, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Production report on Oct. 10. If realized, this will be the second highest production on record, behind only 2010. The Oct. 1 yield was forecast to be 45.0 bushels per acre, up 6.0 bushels from 2013, with the harvest 98 percent complete.

U.S. soybean production is forecast at a record 3.93 billion bushels, up 17 percent from last year. Based on Oct. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average a record high 47.1 bushels per acre, up 3.1 bushels from last year.


"Corn yields in Green County will be excellent this year with many plants having multiple ears," Mayer said. "I would guess that we may likely break our record average corn yield for the county of 178 bushel per acre that was set in 2009."

Wisconsin corn production is forecast at 497 million bushels, according to USDA NASS. Based on conditions as of Oct. 1, yields are expected to average 162 bushels per acre, an increase of 16 bushels per acre from last year. If realized, this will match 2010 for the highest yield on record for Wisconsin.

U.S. corn production is forecast at 14.5 billion bushels, up 4 percent from 2013. Based on conditions as of Oct. 1, yields are expected to average 174.2 bushels per acre, 15.4 bushels above the 2013 average. If realized, this will be the highest yield and production on record for the United States.

Prices languish

The NASS released agricultural prices on Sept. 29.

The price for corn in Wisconsin in September was $3.40 per bushel, compared to $3.80 in August and $5.68 a year ago. The price of Wisconsin soybeans for September 2014 was $11.10 per bushel, compared to $12.50 in August and $12.90 a year earlier.

The U.S. price for a bushel of field corn was $3.38 for September, $3.63 in August and $5.40 for September 2013. The price of corn averaged $6.02 in 2011. Corn prices reached more than $7.50 in 2012.

For soybeans, the U.S. bushel price was $11.20 in September, $12.40 in August and $13.30 in September 2013. The average price in 2011 was $12.50. Soybeans reached more than $16 per bushel in 2012.

Other harvests

Harvest of high moisture corn for cattle feed has started. Much of the dry corn harvest will start after soybeans are done. Many farmers are hoping for warm and dry weather to help dry down the corn standing in the field to reduce their drying costs, Mayer said.

Mayer also reported the corn silage harvest is mostly completed in the county with yields running above normal. Average yields for corn silage in the county are around 21 tons per acre. Many fields are running 25-29 tons this year.

Forage yields were also above average this year and have helped to replenish low forage stocks that were depleted from the 2012 drought.


The state's production of alfalfa and alfalfa mixture dry hay is forecast at 3.80 million tons, up 33 percent from the previous year. Yield is expected to average 3.30 tons per acre, up 0.70 ton from last year.

The USDA NASS reports Wisconsin alfalfa hay at $150 per ton, down from $200 a year ago.

Production of other hay in Wisconsin is forecast at 765,000 tons, down 15 percent from last year. Based on Oct. 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 1.70 tons per acres. The price of other hay was at $103 per ton, down from $120 a year ago.

The average U.S. alfalfa price was $197 per ton in September, up from $194 in 2013. Prices in Nevada, New Mexico and California were $230 to $255 per ton in September, about $15-20 lower than in 2013. The lowest September price was in North Dakota, at $84 per ton.

Hay other than alfalfa in the U.S. averaged $129 per ton in September, down from $133 a year ago. It was priced highest at $230 in Washington and $220 in Arizona, and lowest in North Dakota, at $59.

All crop forecasts in the latest USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service report are based on Oct. 1 conditions and do not reflect weather effects since that time.

-The Associated Press contributed to this story.