Last week Michigan couldn’t decide if it was spring or winter some days; last Tuesday, 60-plus degree weather and sunshine broke out, whereas on Wednesday large snowflakes poured down for an hour at a time.
Wet and cold weather put any planting of corn and soybeans on hold for the week, according to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) statistician Jim Collum.
“There’s just absolutely nothing going on right now,” Collum said. “It’s too wet and too cold.”
He explained there was no soybean or corn planting going on and little to no sugar beet planting, either. Five percent of sugar beets had been planted as of last week. Collum said most of that had actually been planted earlier, when there was a window of mild weather a few weeks ago.
“Last year we were at 100 percent (at this time) with sugar beets,” he added. “Spring just won’t come.”
The week prior was little, if at all, better, according to NASS’ most recent Crop Progress and Condition report for the state. Only one day was suitable for fieldwork two weeks ago, because of rain, cold and snow. Some areas saw more than 4 inches of rain that week, which ended April 21.
Despite the fact low areas of fields were underwater, winter wheat in southern Michigan greened nicely, while wheat in northern Michigan remained dormant, and the flooding may result in some crop losses. But maple syrup producers are reporting an excellent season so far.
The cold, wet weather was also hindering fruit growers’ efforts at pruning their plants. Asparagus growers are one week behind schedule, as well. Carrot and onion planting in the west-central part of the state was delayed because of high soil moisture.
By Kevin Walker
This year’s planting season in Indiana has been nothing like 2012. Last year at this time, Hoosier farmers had taken advantage of warm, dry weather to plant 43 percent of their corn crop. This year, 1 percent was planted, according to the April 22 Crop & Weather report from the state field office of NASS. The five-year average is 16 percent.
“I’ve heard reports of a small field here and there that might be planted (with corn), but that was done back on the first Saturday in April,” said Greg Bossaer, Purdue University agriculture and natural resources extension educator for White County. “Since then, there’s been little opportunity to do anything. We’ve constantly been hammered with rain.”
Winter wheat fields in some areas have been flooded, and Bossaer said the crop’s recovery will depend on soil and air temperatures and how long it’s underwater.
Farmers don’t appear to be worried about the slow start, but Bossaer said when planting begins in earnest, the window will be shorter and that could be stressful on fertilizer and chemical dealers.
“(Farmers) recognize they’re going to have to hit it hard when they start planting,” he said. “Everyone is going to want a sprayer and other supplies. That’s going to be frustrating.”
Thirty-six percent of the winter wheat crop was jointed, down from 67 percent last year. The five-year average is 40 percent.
The May forecast from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center shows the states in the Farm World area have an equal chance of above-normal, normal or below-normal temperatures. Most of the area is expected to have below-normal precipitation.
By Michele F. Mihaljevich
Grain farmer Mark Tuttle of Somonauk, Ill., isn’t worried about the cold, wet weather just yet. The DeKalb County Farm Bureau president, whose family farms about 900 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and vegetables for canning, said “it’s just going to be one of those years. We haven’t missed a thing yet.”
With some areas receiving as much as 8 inches of rain, the Illinois field office of NASS reported more than 3 inches above the normal average during the week ending April 21. To complicate matters, statewide temperatures averaged 48.7 degrees, nearly 2 degrees below normal.
That resulted in less than one day suitable for fieldwork statewide. Only the southeastern and southwestern areas of the state had any time suitable to start planting.
“The biggest thing is that it’s still so cold. The soil might look dry on top, but it’s still cold and wet underneath,” Tuttle said.
Although at this time in 2012 about 30 percent of the Illinois’ corn acreage was planted, this year that number is a mere 1 percent.
“We have time yet. Years ago, when I worked a seed corn company, they wouldn’t let us plant in April,” Tuttle added.
By Deborah Behrends