Wet conditions devastate farmers during harvest

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PORTAGE COUNTY, Wis. (WSAW)-- As rain continues to fall, this weather could mean a huge loss for farmers during their harvest.

Wet weather could affect crops in Portage County (WSAW Photo).

At a farm on Highway W in Bancroft, the fields are full of potatoes. But on top of that crop is several inches of mud, leaving the potatoes in the ground completely saturated.

“It’s going to be tough going. Especially with potatoes, we have a limited amount of time, we have a short window here,” said Paul Cieslewicz, the owner of Sand County Equipment, which supplies machinery and works closely with farmers in the area.

Potatoes must dry out before they can be harvested. White spots, called lettuce cells, mean they are too wet.

The quality of the product, it will absolutely affect,” Cieslewicz said.

This is a critical time for harvesting.

“We want to be done within the next week, which obviously we will not be,” he said.

Last year, about $50 million of crops were lost in Portage County to bad weather, according to Cieslewicz's calculation.

“Economically, it was devastating for these farmers,” Cieslewicz said.

And because of this week’s rain...

“I find it hard to believe that they’re going to be getting this crop out of the ground,” he said.

And even if they are able to harvest, this process is stressful.

“We can’t harvest when we should be harvesting, it creates an intensity to that whole process,” said Ken Schroeder, an agricultural agent at UW-Madison Extension Portage County.

Cieslewicz tells me these large farms are growing commercial crops, so weather like this affects what you see at the grocery store.

Read the original version of this article at www.wsaw.com.