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Wisconsin farmers look to finish long harvest season by end of January

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JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- After a late start, Wisconsin farmers are hoping to finish the 2019 harvest strong in the new year.

Bryce O'Leary, a custom farmer who hires out his services to help plant and clear fields throughout the region, said it's been an issue all year long.

"When it started raining in the spring we couldn't get crops in," he said. "Then in the summer it wasn't quite as warm as we would like so our crops didn't mature as they normally would."

Then Halloween came with six inches of snow, burying any chance for a quick and easy harvest.

"This year has just been a tough year to get everything done," he said.

Usually, O'Leary said he's pretty much wrapped up most of his harvest jobs by Thanksgiving. This year he's still got fields to clear in January.

Fortunately, O'Leary said he's in the home stretch. He only has about three more jobs to do but the same thing that delayed his start is delaying his finish.

"There's little patches here and there but they were wet," he said.

O'Leary said he's waiting for a good freeze to dry up conditions in those fields to ensure his equipment can make it through safely and efficiently.

"Everyone's had enough of getting stuck earlier in the fall," he said.

Still, he said the more recent trend towards warmer weather has brought renewed hope for the season.

"We didn't have the white Christmas everyone likes but we did have nice weather," O'Leary said.

That nice weather allowed most farmers, including O'Leary to nearly catch up on their fieldwork and he said that's not the only silver lining.

Despite spending more time in the field, O'Leary said much of the corn he's harvested has been of good quality.

"Considering all that work that you put into it, we had good crop yields and the prices have come back here some now," he said.

O'Leary said that means those who were able to get their crops out should see a strong return.

"It's a silver lining of sorts," he said.

As for those who didn't, O'Leary said planting season is just months away.

"As a farmer you run into years like this," he said. "Hopefully not too often."

The final harvest numbers for December have not yet been released, but as of December 8, a fourth of Wisconsin's corn was still waiting for harvest.

O'Leary said 10 good days should allow farmers to take care of everything left.

Michelle Alfini

Reporter, WKOW

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