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Wisconsin corn growers face late harvest

ROCK COUNTY (WKOW) — Mid-September usually marks the beginning of Wisconsin’s corn and soybean harvest but this year farmers say they’ve got weeks to go.

According to Doug Rebout, the president of the Wisconsin Growers Association, that’s because the cold wet spring meant planting season got off to a slow start.

“We’ve never been able to really to catch up this year,” he said.

Rebout said it even left a mark on the corn.

“This year this is really common where the corn is not filled out so that will knock our yields back a little bit,” he said.

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He said the best way to make up for that is ensuring farmers are able to harvest as much as possible, but in the early weeks of fall, he said there’s not much they can do.

“Right now we don’t have anything that’s ready to go out and harvest,” Rebout said.

He considers himself lucky compared to most farmers. Rebout said he was able to plant all of his corn in late April through early June. He said his most mature crop just needs a few more weeks to dry out before harvesting but even that could take another month.

“We got some stuff that isn’t going to be ready to harvest until middle of November,” he said.

Still, Rebout said other growers are looking at harvests as late as early December, which brings its own set of concerns.

“Normally, farmers we’re trying to finish harvest before the snow flies,” he said.

That’s why he said farmers need these warm temperatures hold out as long as possible. An early frost could kill the crop too early and an early snowfall could crush the crops and setback harvest time even later.

“We’re hoping that winter holds out for a little while and we’ll be able to get our work done,” Rebout said.

Even so, he said farmers are prepared to make the best of whatever situation they’re given. Rebout said farmers plan for difficult years like this, but it means they’ll need stronger yields in seasons to come.

“When you have a year like this you never know what you’re gonna get,” he said.

According to the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, all farmers are behind schedule for their harvest but farmers in south central Wisconsin are better off than most.

Corn growers here are an average of two weeks behind compare to some more than a month out from harvest in northern parts of the state, which saw more flooding this spring.

Michelle Alfini

Reporter, WKOW

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