Hay yields abundant in local area, corn hurt by late cold weather

OSCEOLA COUNTY — The growing season is winding down and area farmers are wrapping up their harvests.

Compared to other places in the state, farms in Mecosta and Osceola counties produced a large amount of hay this year, said Jerry Lindquist, Michigan State University Extension grazing and crop management educator.

“In Southern Michigan it was too dry and produced lower yields, while the Upper Peninsula was too wet and some places never even had a first cutting,” Lindquist said. “In the Upper Peninsula they often don’t harvest until July, but there wasn't much rain so they never did harvest some fields. Those areas are balancing out our abundant supply.”

Because of these circumstances, Lindquist said the market is holding its own. Farmers are getting just below $100 a ton for first cutting, and between $120 and $150 a ton for the higher quality second and third cuttings.

“That’s good, given the overall farm economies,” Lindquist said.

Overall, the hay season was pretty good with yields either average or above average at most local farms, he said.

“There are some farmers still harvesting, depending on the rainfall we have left,” Lindquist said. “Rain earlier in the season slowed down the harvest, but produced more yields in the end. Those second and third cuttings had larger yields and farms benefited."

However, locally corn crops in some areas were hurt by a stretch of midsummer dry weather and more recently the cool weather at the end of August and so far in September.

“Some nights got too cool and the corn slowed down,” Lindquist said. “We never got the hot, humid August days, so the corn crop developed slowly which will affect the yields.”

Corn for silage will be harvested this week and into the end of September, he said.

Shelled corn for grain experienced a bit of a rough patch with recent weather, Lindquist said.

“We will be lucky to see average yields there,” he said. “We had some killing frost in low-lying areas over the last eight to 10 days. Normally our first killing frost is between Sept. 22 and Oct. 1 in Mecosta and Osceola counties, so that put an early end to some of the growing.”

Corn for grains will likely be harvested in October. Soy beans also will be harvested in October, Lindquist said.

“The soy bean crop looks to be average to below average because there was not enough rain and a lack of heat at end of the season,” he said. “We are not expecting a great bumper crop in soy beans.”

Meanwhile, the potato harvest has started in the area. Because most potato fields are irrigated, they aren’t as impacted by the rain.

“This type of growing season is favorable for them,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot of disease with the potato crop and the preliminary results look like it will be a good crop.”

The winter wheat crop is planted in September, but most other planting is now done for the season, Lindquist said.

“This year could’ve been better, but it also could’ve been worse, so we will just take it and plan for next year,” he said.