2017-07-23 / Insight

Outlook on FARMING 2017

Crop experts hopeful on this year’s season
BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com


Attica Township’s Lynn Walton has all of his 2,500 acres planted in corn this year and is looking forward to a good October harvest. Farmers across the county are looking for a slightly above-average season. 
Photo by Phil Foley Attica Township’s Lynn Walton has all of his 2,500 acres planted in corn this year and is looking forward to a good October harvest. Farmers across the county are looking for a slightly above-average season. Photo by Phil Foley ATTICA TWP. — Talk to the typical farmer and like as not the conversation is going to begin with the same two words, “It’s too.” It’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s too wet, it’s too dry — farmers generally being conservative, cautious and a tad nervous are often happy about a lot, but this season they seem to be cracking a smile or two.

“The corn’s looking good,” said Lynn Walton, whose looking forward to harvesting 2,500 acres of field corn on the Attica Township farm his father began in the late 1950s.

“The price of corn keeps creeping up,” said North Branch Township farmer Lance Walker who sells Becks Seeds out of Atlanta, Ind., and feed supplements for Agri-King out of Fulton, Ill. “Everyone expected it to be in the dumps, but now it could hit $5 a bushel before we’re done. I don’t think it will happen, but we’ll see.”

Overall, said Walker said, “Things are looking pretty good.” He said while yields on wheat, which is currently being harvested, are “a little down,” that’s compared to a record harvest last summer. “You can’t have a record crop every year,” Walker observed.

“We’ve had moisture. We’ve had heat. We’re doing pretty good, said Eddie Fahley, operations manager at Helena Chemical in Goodland Township. Fahley said that while the season has had its challenges, “Overall we had a good spring,” and “it’s looking positive for the fall harvest.”

Fahley said edible beans, which used to be almost non-existent in Lapeer County, are starting to grow a little. Phil Kaatz, an agriculture educator with the MSU Extension Service, said along with edible beans some farmers at the north end of the county are adding sugar beets, oats and forages to their rotations.

But wheat, corn and soybeans remain the county’s dominate crops.

Kaatz said this year’s weather pattern has created problems for farmers harvesting hay. “You need three days where it’s dry enough to bale,” he explained. He said this year some farmers have cut hay only to see it rain a day or two later.

“The quality goes down significantly when it gets rained on,” Kaatz said, adding rain “knocks leave off alfalfa and the color and nutrients are less overall.”

With the season half over, Kaatz said there are still things to be concerned over. He said with warm humid days hitting as the wheat ripens, “it’s critical farmers harvest as soon as possible.” Kaatz said farmers would be better off harvesting and drying wheat than risk the fungus Fusarium, known as head scab, getting a hold in the wheat and lessening its quality. “Once quality drops, you don’t get it back,” he warned.

Kaatz added farmers should keep an eye on soybean fields for white mold.

“Crop health across the board is doing well,” Fahley said, but added it’s still a long way to October, so smart farmers are keeping an eye on things.

He noted that while the Dakotas are experiencing drought conditions this year, the Sandusky and Watertown areas got hit with too much rain.

Walker said Lapeer County seems to be in something of a sweet spot this season, with conditions being a little rougher and tougher north of Marlette and south of Almont.

All three agreed if things hold, Lapeer County farmers could end the season slightly above average with yields and money in the bank.

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