Michigan Corn Field

A corn field in Shiawassee County in a photo taken Nov. 27. Standing water and mud are making it difficult for farmers to harvest soy bean and corn crops this fall. 

Mother Nature hasn’t been kind to Michigan farmers this year. Due to inclement weather and ensuing muddy fields, less than 60 percent of Michigan crops have been harvested thus far this fall.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reports farmers have been able to harvest only 56 percent of field corn by the end of last week. The Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) notes in a press release this percentage marks a significant increase from only 39 percent the week before.

According to MFB Field Crops Specialist Theresa Sisung, the five-year average for corn harvest is 83 percent. Sisung notes Michigan’s soybean harvest increased from 76 percent complete the previous week to 80 percent. However, she said that number still trails the five-year average figure of 94 percent.

“Many farmers need Mother Nature to finally do them a favor with a prolonged period of below-normal temperatures with no additional precipitation to provide frozen ground to operate on,” Sisung said. “While many farmers have attempted to harvest corn in extremely wet field conditions, a majority of unharvested acres will need to be frozen before they can be harvested.”

NASS reports multiple farmers won’t be able to harvest many fields for the remainder of the year due to muddy conditions and early snow cover that kept crops warm during this fall’s cold snap. NASS also said moisture content of corn and soybeans continues to be above average. Corn is currently holding moisture content of 24 percent and soybeans are at 16 percent.

Additionally, according to MFB, “Most farmers have either finished or given up completely on winter wheat seeding. With only 91 percent of intended winter wheat seeded, many producers are concerned that conditions have not been conducive in promoting emergence, especially in late plantings.”

“I can only say the weather this year has had an adverse effect on farmers,” said Thomas Gross, a Beal City farmer and businessman whose extended family has been involved in Michigan agricultural projects for several generations.

“I’ve driven throughout the state and witnessed many fields with crops of soybeans and corn that haven’t been combined,” Gross said, referencing the mechanical process by which large crops are harvested.

“Because combines are extremely expensive and heavy machinery, farmers are hesitant to risk mudding around in fields where they run the risk of burying themselves and their equipment in muck,” he continued.

"Unfortunately, the extreme wet weather and early snow aren’t working very well to the benefit of farmers,” Gross said.  

Regional Editor

Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.