MADISON, Wis. — Floods and mudslides are washing away promising-looking corn and soybean crops in western Wisconsin.
Before the recent flooding, farmers were looking at a potentially record-setting harvest after a near-perfect growing season, the Wisconsin State Journal (http://bit.ly/2cU9BFN ) reported.
But farmers hit by mudslides in the valleys “are basically in hell right now,” said Vance Haugen, the agriculture agent for the UW Extension in Crawford County.
Farmers whose fields are covered in water or mud may have to wait until the ground freezes before they can harvest whatever is left, Haugen said.
“Farmers are getting psychologically worn down,” Haugen said.
He said farmers are in the middle of harvesting corn silage used for animal feed, “and the quality goes down the longer you take to harvest it. And if you go into the fields too soon with your machinery you can squash the soil structure and it can take years — sometimes decades — to repair some of that damaged soil.”
Corn already is showing signs of poorer quality in wet areas, Haugen said. Farmers worry that the quality of their corn will dip so low that it won’t meet the standards to make ethanol, he said.
Adam Hady, the ag agent for the UW Extension in Richland County, said corn stalks also are weakening in some areas. That will lead to machinery breakdowns during harvest, he said.
“The crops were so beautiful and a lot of guys went from believing that this was going to be one of the best harvests ever to wondering if they’ll even get into their fields for the harvest,” Hady said.
Because the flooding has happened in just one region and a bountiful harvest is still expected in most grain-producing states, prices for corn futures have not risen, analysts say.
“So now they’re going to get poor prices with less of a crop. That’s tough to take,” Haugen said.
After last week’s heavy rains, forecasts call for a dry week ahead in southwestern Wisconsin.
Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj