September rainfall delays harvest season for farmers

DOOR COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) -- With the wettest September already on record in Green Bay, farmers are hoping for some dry weeks ahead so they can harvest their crops.

“October is going to be a busy month for a lot of farmers in the area,” said Jacob Brey, Brey Cycle Farm in Door County.

Since touring Brey’s family dairy farm in May some things have changed, but some haven’t.

“One thing that hasn’t changed is the wet soggy fields,” said Brey. “We have gotten about 20 inches of rain since you were here in the May, so that’s kind of crazy.”

While on his farm Monday, his rain gauge measured about 1.5 inches of rain since Sunday.

“We are kind of seeing the corn is taking a long time to mature, especially with all the rain we have had,” said Brey. “

Brey was hoping to plant 800 acres of corn this year. He said he got about 85 percent in, with his last batch toward the end of June.

Although the corn is a bit shorter this year, the corn cobs are a nice size. However, Brey said the kernels inside the cob are a tell-tale sign that the corn has had too much rain this year.

“These are called dents or dimples in the corn and we want all the kernels to be dented,” said Brey. “You can see less than 10 percent are dented already.”

Those kernel dents give farmers an idea of when the corn is ready for harvest.

“If it’s too wet we lose nutrients and if too dry it’s harder for the crop to ferment and pack in silo,” said Brey. “So just waiting for corn to be in sweet spot is the challenge right now because we know as we wait longer, there will be shorter days and cooler days.”

Not only has the rain delayed the harvest, it’s also changing the way Brey harvests this year. He will have to use dump carts or wagons to remove the corn from the field, which require more man power and more tractors.

Brey said it’s a tedious, slow and stressful process so if you see farmers using the roads a bit more this October, just be patient with them.

“We have our hands tied because corn isn’t ready to harvest yet, but as we get later in fall, the field conditions are even less desirable and that puts us in a tough position,” said Brey. “We are hoping we don’t see an early frost.”
Brey said it hasn’t been all bad. The rain actually helped produce a pretty good alfalfa crop this year.

“We typically make three crops, but this year we had a fourth because of the moisture in August and September,” said Brey. “That’s been one bright spot, but more difficult and challenging to get that crop harvested as well.”

After harvest, comes the application of nutrients and manure. If the soil is still too wet and soggy, Brey said it will be hard to get the cover crops established and planted.