Uncertain Spring brings challenges for local farmers

OSCEOLA COUNTY - Seventy degrees outside one day. Snow on the ground and freezing rain the next.

It’s been a tough spring. For area farmers, the wild swing in temperature wasn’t nearly as annoying as not being able to get into fields because of continuing wet conditions.

“The wet is certainly delaying spring activity,” said Jerry Lindquist, Michigan State University Extension educator of Osceola County.

“Every day that goes by with the same conditions creates more of a concern.

“At this time in 2010, we were ahead of schedule, so a lot of people are disappointed with the way things are going right now.”

Lindquist says that despite some tough field conditions, there is really no need to get too worried ...not yet.

“It’s really not unusual to get a little snow in April,” he pointed out. It was, however, somewhat unusual to get snow almost every week in April.

“We’ve seen some planting delays, but hopefully it won’t be a substantial issue.”

The extra moisture should actually be good for those raising hay. If the weather calms down and slips into a more normal mode, hay growers should see a good cutting in June - actually made a little better by the extra added moisture fields are receiving at this time.

“The problem is tilling and planting,” said Lindquist. “We need to get into the fields to begin that work, and farmers are being held up.”

The MSUE educator noted that as a rule of thumb, for every day fields aren’t planted after May 5 farmers lose a bushel of corn per acre.

“That can be pretty costly with the way corn prices are at this time,” he said.

At this time, corn stands at around $7 per bushel.

The cold weather has been an issue for livestock raisers who have seen calving or lambing out of doors.

There have been some deaths as a result of freezing and damp conditions.

“It has not been sever, but it is draining some money away,” said Lindquist.

Still, there simply isn’t too much to worry about just yet.

“IF we get into May and the weather hasn’t warmed, things could start being a bit of a problem,” he continued. “There’s a point in mid-May when farmers realize they have lost a part of the growing season. I hope we don’t hit that point.”