By Kevin Walker
LANSING, Mich. – Michigan farmers have been ahead of schedule with their crops throughout the season and seem to be ahead of schedule now during harvest.
“Things are really developing ahead of schedule, even though things started out dry early on,” said Tyrone Kalaus, deputy director of the Michigan office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). “Mid to late July we started to get a lot of moisture. It came at a good time. Fruit and vegetable growers were struggling in early June with all the dryness, but they got more moisture later on.”
Kalaus said he got a call from a farmer recently who told him he was already in his fifth cutting of alfalfa. “Usually there is no fifth cutting at all,” Kalaus explained. According to NASS’ latest crop weather report, covering the week ending October 3, corn harvested for grain was 17 percent complete. That’s 10 percentage points ahead of the five-year average. Dry beans harvested was at 84 percent, a full 35 percentage points higher than the five-year average. Alfalfa hay 4th cutting was at 65 percent. Normally at this time of year there hasn’t been a 4th cutting even started, according to the report. For sugar beets harvested, the figure was 37 percent, with the five-year average at 25 percent.
“Soybean harvest also progressed significantly ahead of the five-year average,” the report stated. Director of research at the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee Mark Seaman, reiterated this. “We are definitely ahead of average,” he stated. “We were able to get a good head start on the harvest.” Percent of soybeans harvested was listed at 31 percent in the latest NASS report, more than double the five-year average of 15 percent.
“Regarding yield, I hear a lot of growers that like the results they’re getting,” Seaman added. “I also like what I’m hearing from soybeans processors that protein content this year is looking good. So, yield and quality so far this year is looking excellent. But Seaman also issued a caveat: “Beans are in some cases dryer than usual this year, which is a negative for the grower.”
Also, according to the report, the apple harvest appears to be going well. The harvest was said to be moving rapidly, aided by favorable weather and a lighter crop load than last year. Maturity in many varieties advanced quickly, with some varieties advancing more quickly than predicted. Golden Delicious harvest was more than 50 percent complete in the Southwest part of the state and most Ida Red and Empire had been harvested there. Growers will soon focus on Red Delicious. In the Grand Rapids area, Empire harvest was complete, and growers were harvesting Golden Delicious.