Winter blast jeopardizes corn crop - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Winter blast jeopardizes corn crop

MADISON (WKOW) -- Many Wisconsin farmers will feel the impact of the blizzard long after the snow melts.

In terms of weather, it's been a roller coaster since September, and it's taking a toll on the corn crop across Wisconsin.

October was unusually wet and chilly, which delayed the corn development by almost a month.

November rains made it hard for the corn to dry out properly, so many farmers waited to collect the corn. Agronomists say about 30 percent of the state's corn crop is still in the fields. That's more than 1 million corn stalks, or $500 million. Losing that kind of money would hurt farmers significantly.

"For a farmer that's got 20 percent or more of corn out there, it is going to be very difficult for them to financially continue farming next year," said Dave Fischer, spokesperson for the Dane County Farm Bureau. "It could easily be the difference for some of those farmers between farming next year and having to get out of farming next year."

Now, all the snow will make it extremely difficult to collect the corn.

"All that snow that would go through the combine would plug those sivs up and you'd have the corn get threshed in, but then it'd just go right out the back end and not get collected," said Joe Lauer, UW-Madison agronomist.

Farmers could wait until spring to finish harvesting their corn, but agronomists say that's taking a big risk.

"If we have a hail storm or an ice storm or a blizzard like we just had, that will potentially flatten that corn so that a combine can't pick it up," said Lauer.

Besides risking another blizzard that could level any corn left over, the corn could start molding from all the moisture in the snow.

Corn makes up for roughly half of Wisconsin's total crop revenue, so a bad year in corn sales could mean trouble for the state's economy.

Lauer says the only thing that could save the corn still standing is if some of the snow melts and the ground freezes up, so the combines can collect the corn without sinking into the soft ground.

Online reporting by Jamie Hersch

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