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Weather still hampering some crops

Louis Wierenga Jr. has an empty space is his cornfield where flooding occurred in May.

Hunter Dood

Staff Writer

Local farmers saw a wet spring and, according to press release from Gov. Whitmer, the year that ended April 30 was the third wettest in Michigan history.

Spring rains caused issues for farmers during planting season.

Week after week, their fields were too wet to plant, leading to some farmers applying for prevented planting reimbursement through the USDA Farm Service Agency.

According to the press release, farmers only had 3½ days with conditions suitable for planting by June 9. June 5 was the final planting date for prevented planting of corn in Michigan.

Carlton Township farmer Louis Wierenga Jr. said he had never seen a spring like this year's in his “better than 50 years” of farming.

Summer weather conditions did improve for farmers, but still added more complications.

According to results from the National Weather Service Climatological Station in Hastings, rain fell 25 days in the month of May. Rain was recorded 14 separate days in each April and June. Then, from late July to mid-July, over nearly three weeks, only a trace of rain fell. That dry spell, and another in August, added stress to crops.

Wierenga said last week that more rain is needed. Extremely dry soil in some fields is causing issues for some crops, he said. Recent rains have been scattered, soaking some areas, barely getting the soil wet in others.

Lake Odessa area farmer Tim Stuart said his harvest of hay and cereal crops have been mostly on schedule. The corn and soybean harvest likely will be behind schedule due to the late planting, he said.

Wierenga said crops are running three to five weeks behind normal. He wasn't able to plant 40 acres of soybean or a quarter of his entire corn acreage. He planted 40 acres of sudangrass as a cover crop, to protect and enrich the soil. It will be used to feed cattle this fall.

Though he only raises crops, Wierenga said he has concerns regarding shortages of feed for livestock producers.

“There is a poor chance for a large yield on corn and soybean,” he said, adding that late-planted crops are struggling because their root systems are not deep enough.

Stuart said he believes the harvest season could be longer than usual. He added that there is still the potential of an adequate yield for corn and soybean farmers

“We just need time,” he said, adding: “No frost before the 15th of October - at the earliest.”


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