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Yields shine brightly for area farmers
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MONROE - While many Green and Lafayette farmers are anticipating some record corn yields in 2014, it was 2013 that proved to be a comeback year for many of them, after taking some devastating hits from the weather in 2012.

The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Wisconsin Field Office released the 2014 agricultural statistics report this fall. The report includes 2013 information at both state and county levels.

It shows Green and Lafayette farmers shining brightly last year, especially in corn grain yields, which rose from some of the lowest in the state in 2012 to more than double in 2013 and contributing to the state's 21 percent increase in yields for that crop.


Green County with 76.8 bushels per acre, and Lafayette County with 78.3 bushels per acre, along with Marquette County with 60.7 bushels per acre, had the lowest yields for corn grain in the state in 2012. The highest yields that year were in the counties of Pierce with 167.1 bushels and St. Croix with 165.6 bushels, helping their westcentral region boast yields of 148 bushels per acre despite the weather. The northeast region topped out at 148 bushels per acre.

But it was the southern counties that drove up the state 2013 corn yield average, bouncing back from their lower-than-state averages in 2012. Green County pulled 159.2 bushels per acre, while Lafayette County pulled 171.2 bushels per acre and joined the top three counties in the state for yields. Grant County harvested corn at 178.6 bushels per acre and Dane County harvested corn at 175.7 bushels per acre.

In 2013, the southcentral counties averaged 167.3 bushels per acre, up from 111.6 bushels in 2012. The southwest region averaged 163.2 bushel per acre, up from 103.0 bushels. And the southeast region averaged 157.1 bushels, up from 111.1 bushels per acre.

Gains and losses in yields of the other six regions nearly canceled each other out: The northwest was down 22 bushels, from 126.4 to 104.0 bushels per acre; the central gained 22 bushels from 108.1 to 130.0 bushels; the westcentral was down 19 bushels, from 141.7 to 123.3 bushels; the eastcentral gained 19 bushels, from 136.9 to 156.2 bushels. The northeast gained two bushels, from 148.0 to 150.3 bushels; and the northcentral region matched itself, from 116.4 to 116.3 bushels between 2012 and 2013.

Overall, Wisconsin corn for grain yields rose from 121 bushels per acre in 2012 to 146.0 bushels per acre on 2013. The state's record yield is 162 bushels per acre, from 2010.


The same story can be told of the 2013 soybean harvest. All upper six regions had lower soybean yields in 2013 - ranging from 22.4 to 41.2 bushels per acre, compared to yields in 2012, which ranged from 35.5 to 48.3 bushels per acre.

Several individual counties in the southern part of the state met the same fate, leaving the state on average with a lower soybean yield of 38 bushels per acre in 2013, compared to 41.5 bushels in 2012. The state record is 50.5 bushels per acre set in 2010.

But enough counties among the southern 20 managed an increase last year to drive their regional averages up. Among the highest in the southwest were Grant County with 50.2 bushels, up from 47.2 bushels, and Lafayette County with 47.8 bushels, up from 35.1 bushels in 2012. The southwest average rose from 42.3 to 44.2 bushels per acre.

The southcentral regional average yield rose from 41.8 bushels in 2012 to 46.2 bushels in 2013. Its best harvest yield increases came from Dane County with 50.3 bushels, up from 43.7 bushels; Green County with 44.4 bushels, up from 36.1 bushels; and Rock County with 45.5 bushels, up from 37.6 bushels.

Grant and Dane had the highest soybean yields in the state in 2013; most of the lowest yields came out of the northwest with 17.5 to 24.2 bushel yields.


Oat yields were up in six of the nine regions. The northwest, northcentral, and westcentral regions lost about five to six bushels per acre on the yields, landing in the mid-50s.

Oat yields in the southwest and southeast were up six to seven bushels per acre, giving about 66 to 68 bushels per acre. Lafayette County had no numbers reported from 2012, but was second in the region for highest yield, with 74.5 bushels per acre in 2013. Iowa County had the highest with 75 bushels, up from 58.3 bushels in 2012.

The remaining regions upped their yields by about 10 to 14 bushels per acre, compared to 2012. South Central rose by about 11 more bushels per acre, from 59.1 to 70.3 bushels. Green County managed only three more bushels, from 70.4 to 73.6 bushels, but it had the highest yields in the region in both 2012 and 2013.

The county with the highest average yield was Langlade, in the northeast region, with 99 bushels per acre, up from 82 bushels in 2012. The lowest yield was in the westcentral region county of Monroe, which managed 41 bushels of oats per acre in 2013, after seeing 65.9 bushels per acre in 2012.

The state average 65 bushels per acre in 2013, up from 60 bushels in 2012. The state record is 68 bushels, set in 2000.


Winter wheat is not well represented in the northern most counties; it starts making its appearance in the central regions. But even there, the USDA sometimes dumps stats together "to avoid disclosure of individual operations." Green County was one of those whose 2012 numbers went unofficially recorded in the USDA report.

When corn yields went bust in 2012, winter wheat yielded a life saver for many southern Wisconsin farmers. State yields in 2012, averaging 75 bushels per acre, didn't break the 2006 state record of 76.2 bushels, but it came close.

In July 2012, Mark Meyer, Green County agriculture agent with University of Wisconsin-Extension, was predicting above average yields for the county, with 75 to 100 bushels per acre. The warm, wet early season helped get wheat started, and the dry period kept diseases away, he had reported. Unfortunately, farmers hadn't planted a lot of it - only 8,500 to 9,000 acres.

In comparison to 2012, the 2013 state average yield of 58 bushels now looks a little disappointing, but it's a decrease in all regions and among the counties that the USDA reported.

Green County winter wheat yields were 67.7 bushels per acre in 2013. The southcentral region came out with 63.9 bushels, a decrease from 81.5 bushels in 2012.

Lafayette County pulled the highest county yield of winter wheat in the state in 2013, obtaining 71.7 bushels per acre, compared to its 87.2 bushel yield harvested in 2012. The southwest region had an average yield of 63.5 bushels, compared to 78.1 bushels in 2012.

Decreases from the 2012 harvest happened as well in the other wheat-growing regions, all down by about 15 to 25 bushels per acre in 2013, and ranging from 64.4 bushels in the southeast to 34.1 bushels in the west central.


In short supply in 2012, alfalfa hay yields were up on average across Wisconsin in 2013, from 2.3 tons per acre in 2012 to 2.6 tons.

In year-to-year increases, Green County led the southcentral region and came in second in the state in 2013. Alfalfa produced 1.15 tons more per acre than in 2012, and yielded 3.15 tons per acre, compared to 2 tons in 2012. Washington County, in the southeast, was first in the state, with yields up by 1.35 tons, from 2.2 to 3.55 tons per acre. The southcentral and southeast tied, with 0.8 ton gains in their yields between 2012 and 2013. Southeast yields rose from 2.25 to 3.05 tons per acre, and the south central rose from 2.3 to 3.1 tons.

The southwest came in third for alfalfa yields, with 2.85 tons, up from 2.4 tons in 2012. Lafayette County yields rose from 2.35 to 2.85 tons. Iowa County brought in the greatest yield for the state in 2013, with 3.55 tons per acre, up from 2.85 tons in 2012.

Other Wisconsin records

Also in 2013, Wisconsin ranked number one in total cheese production (excluding cottage cheese), including total American cheese and Cheddar production; dry whey for human consumption; milk goat inventory; and mink pelts produced.

Wisconsin ranked number two in milk production, Italian cheese production including mozzarella, and milk cow inventory.

More information is available in the USDA 2014 Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics bulletin at