Crops Growth Behind Due to Weather

Knee high by the Fourth of July.

That’s how the old saying goes for farmers to measure the success of their corn crop during the summer months. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture 98-100 percent of corn and soybean crops are planted by the end of June. However, this year, because of wet soil conditions, only 90 percent of corn crops had been planted by June 23, 2019 and about 71 percent of soybean crops had been planted. While nearly all of the corn is planted by now, it does not mean it will be ready for harvesting when typically expected. Right now, a lot looks about ankle3 high, instead of knee high.  As for the soybeans, planting is far below the five-year average, and conditions are declining because of the waterlogged soil.

Given that crop production may be down this year, we took a look at the number of acres planted, aggregate yields last year and bushels yielded per acre in 2018 in Southeastern Michigan. This can  provide a better perspective as to how agriculture affects the lives and economy of Michigan residents.

Regionally, Monroe County had the highest number of acres harvested for corn at 50,500 acres, with Washtenaw County coming in second at 35,000 acres. Monroe, St. Clair, Livingston and areas of Macomb and Washtenaw counties are more rural, with more space for farming. Oakland and Wayne counties tend to be more urban and have the lowest number of acres harvested, along with the fewest number of bushels yielded and produced. Following the trend in which county harvested the most amount of corn regionally, Monroe County also produced the most at 8.5 million bushels of corn and it yielded 168.3 bushels per acre. A bushel is an old measure based on a bushel basket. Wayne County produced the lowest number of bushels of corn at 70,000; it yielded 116.7 bushels per acre.  In terms of the most amount of corn yielded in 2018, St. Clair County had the highest yield at 176.5 bushels yielded per acre of corn planted.

When looking at the amount of soybeans harvested in 2018 regionally, Monroe County again had the highest number of acres harvested at 83,500, and St. Clair County had the second highest at 70,200. Wayne County had the lowest number of soybean acres harvested at 3,000 acres. In terms of production, Monroe County produced the highest amount at 3,765,000 bushels; a bushel of soybeans weighs 60 pounds.  St. Clair County produced 3,150,000 bushels of soybeans and Wayne County had the lowest production rate at 118,000 bushels. When looking at the amount of soybeans yielded per acre each county was within close range of the others. Livingston County had the highest yield rate at 47.7 bushels per acre and Washtenaw County had the lowest yield rate at 43.1 bushels per acre. 

While the majority of crops are now planted there are still many farmers worried about the yield for crops that will be harvested and produced. There are also plenty of farmers relying on crop insurance to ensure some kind of income for the year. According to recent MLive article, the extent of crop insurance claims this year is 13 times higher than last year. As we wait to see what the end result of this year’s corn and soybean crop season is, we also wait to see if the weather patterns of this summer will become a pattern in years to come.

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