First harvest begins, growing season continues

ESCANABA — Farmers around the Upper Peninsula have been busy harvesting the first round of crops for the year, with more harvests to come as the season ­continues.

According to Monica Jean, crop educator for Michigan State University (MSU) Extension for Delta County, the first hay crop is ready to go and crops such as potatoes and dry beans have recently been planted.

“Potato planting had concluded last week for the most part. Dry bean planting is starting,” said Jean. “The first hay crop is ready to go. There was a considerable amount of rain in the beginning of the growing (season).”

With the large amount of rain recently, Jean said the weather leaned in favor of the strawberry growing season, but delayed corn planting production, and in turn, caused a conflict with the harvesting of hay.

“This (rain) caused corn to get in late resulting in corn planting time competing with hay harvest time,” said Jean.

Most winter grains around the Upper Peninsula, such as oats and wheat, have already been harvested.

According to the latest United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, around 85 bushels of wheat are expected to have been harvested across Michigan this year. Michigan wheat growers expect the statewide yield to fall short of the state record high, as producers were expected to harvest 400,000 acres of wheat, which is down 170,000 acres from last year, stated the report released last month.

Coming soon will be strawberry crops, said Jean, adding that although she has not seen any strawberries as of late, people should be expecting the berries fairly soon.

“I have not seen any strawberries but this rain would be good for development,” said Jean. “I would think the first picking would be going on now or (in the) next couple weeks.”

According to the MSU-Extension website, once the crop is available, people should look for strawberries that are firm, plum and deep red in color.