Skip to Content

Wisconsin farmers still not done harvesting crops after rough year

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00

ROCK COUNTY (WKOW) -- Wisconsin farmers can't catch a break -- even during the holidays.

After a delayed start due to flooding and a roller coaster of a fall, farmers across the state were in the fields Thursday -- the day after Christmas -- to try to catch up.

Data from the USDA compiled by Successful Farming shows, as of Monday, only 74 percent of Wisconsin corn has been harvested -- a big decline from 96 percent harvested this time last year.

Chris Gunn, whose family has farmed land in Rock County for generations, was one of the farmers playing catch up Thursday.

"Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we had off," he said. "You have to make time for family, that's for sure."

Usually, they're done by early December, but some unusual weather threw a pretty big curveball this year.

"You look back at Halloween, we had 6 inches of snow and it was 5 below the next day," he said. "Christmas Day, it was 50 degrees out and we got frost coming out of the ground."

When the corn is too wet, it can't be harvested. With 100 acres left to go, the race is on.

"It's supposed to rain a lot Saturday," Gunn said. "So we're trying to push hard to get it done tomorrow night."

The back-and-forth weather means farmers aren't only working longer in the year, but longer in the day -- starting early in the morning and staying out until hours after sunset.

"You get fired up before the sun comes up and try to get done at a reasonable time to kiss your kids goodnight, but some nights you have to work late," Gunn said. "You're at the mercy of mother nature."

Doug Rebout is the president of the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association and runs a farm just down the road.

"I've never seen a year like this before," he said. "I've talked to uncles and neighbors that have farmed all their lives, and most of them have never seen a year like this before."

Rebout is done harvesting, but still finished a month late. He says the rough season hurts more than just farmers' bottom lines.

"The mental health of the farming community nowadays is not as good as it used to be," he said. "So when you have these bad years, and there's been a number of bad years in a row, it's really starting to take a toll on the farmers."

Rebout says farmers have no choice but to press on and hope for a good year soon.

"We'll have to wait and see," he said. "We'll just adapt as it goes."

Farmers say they've been having problems keeping the corn healthy all year due to the wet weather, but harvesting late does not hurt the quality of the corn.

They also say snow itself isn't as worrisome until it becomes so heavy it knocks down the stalks -- or soaks everything, making it all wet.

Farmers also want people to remember to watch out for farm equipment on the road. Farmers are only there because they have to be -- especially this late in the year.

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

Skip to content