Wet, cool weather hampers crop planting

ESCANABA — Farmers in the area are planting their crops whether Mother Nature is helping or not. Cool and wet weather in May has made it sloppier to plant, but the seeds are getting in the ground. However, patrons of farmers markets may need to wait an extra week or two for a bounty to arrive to purchase.

According to the National Weather Service, early spring in the Upper Peninsula was cooler with higher amounts of precipitation. Temperatures and precipitation are expected to become average in June and July.

“The planting situations are very dependent on that individual farm field,” said Michigan State University Extension Field Crops Educator Monica Jean. “There are farms who have gotten a good portion of their fields planted and others who are still struggling to get anything in. I would estimate we are three weeks behind our normal planting times.”

At the Four Seasons Farm off St. Nicholas Road in the Perkins-Rock area, Lenore Hayes said it was a wet spring for planting pumpkins, but the weather had set them back only a few days.

“June 9th is the date when all the pumpkins had been planted in the ground,” said Hayes. “Corn was completely planted by June 5th.”

The type of soil and topography on a farm can determine how crops grow, according to Jean. The soil health and drain tilt in the field, a drainage system that takes excess water away from the soil, are other factors which play a role in the timing of a field returning to a plantable condition.

“We were fortunate enough to get all our crops planted,” said Teressa Hall from Hall Farms, located off St. Nicholas Road. “Although we did have to plant around a few wet spots.”

Hall said with the rain and wet areas, it has been tough to get in their fields.

“It seems like our crops have been slow to emerge and not the best stand as the soil is cool and wet.”

No crops do well in standing water. According to Jean, some crops tolerate moisture better than other crops, but the nutrient content is not as good.

“Nutrient content would not be as good, like in reed canary grass,” said Jean. “Selecting corn silage hybrids with shorter maturity time would still be feasible to plant and provide good nutrition for animal production.”

Hay and alfalfa crops will need to dry out for a harvest, but areas where long term ponding took place will have dead areas.

At the Pellegrini farm off 16.5 Road, the strawberries are starting to blossom.

“Most farmers have really struggled with muddy fields including myself,” said Dave Pellegrini. “I’ve never seen conditions this wet on my farm, but I also think summer can change things in the right direction.”

Pellegrini’s grain crops were put in late due to the conditions on his farm, he said.

At Hall Farm, they planted the same crops as last year and hope for some warmer weather and a nice fall for the crops to grow and mature well.

“We could still have a productive season if we have heat, steady rain when we need it and a long fall,” noted Jean.