Early snow: Yet another hit for farmers this year

Allegan County

TROWBRIDGE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Farmers are suffering what experts say is “unprecedented” difficulty due to an unusually unfavorable weather pattern impacting Michigan.

Soybean and corn farmer Jon Drozd, co-owner of Drozd Farms, says he has seen nothing like it in his 40 years working in the industry.

Farmers were first hit with unusually wet weather in the spring, which forced them to delay planting their crops for the year. That meant the harvest was pushed back.

In some cases, farmers decided not to plant certain crops or went forward with planting in poor conditions.

As they work to harvest crops, farmers now have faced more wet weather and snow, making harvesting difficult or impossible.

“This year has been brutal,” Drozd told News 8. “It’s frustrating both from the financial side and also from the personal side because you have some pride and joy of growing decent crops and when you can’t get it done like you should, it’s really frustrating.”

Drozd said most of his corn crop is still out on the field. He fears that he may not be able to complete his harvest until spring. But not all of his corn will be there waiting. Winter weather and the additional exposure of the crop will shrink what is left for harvest.

Drozd was able to harvest all his soybeans this year. He is one of the lucky ones on that front.

Mike Staton, a soybean educator for Michigan State University Extension, says about a quarter of all soybeans in Michigan remain unharvested.

“It has been unprecedented,” Staton told News 8. “Odds of getting the crop out under the conditions are going to be difficult.”

Unlike corn, unharvested soybeans won’t survive the winter. Anything not collected from the fields will go to waste.

Farmers who are trying to harvest on snowy, wet fields also risk doing damage that will come back to haunt them next year.

“If we’re in there harvesting under very wet conditions, we’re going to create some harvest ruts,” Staton said. “That’s going to carry over and affect the fields next year.”

Typically, farmers faced with difficult growing conditions make up for the losses in pricing increases. A lower supply typically means prices go up, and farmers can make a profit on the smaller harvest.

But this year, that’s not happening.

“We just haven’t seen the price response that we should’ve,” Drozd said.

That could be for several reasons, including the tariffs and the trade war, and the African swine fever, which is killing off pigs in china that consume corn and soybeans. Drozd said exports have been soft this year.

Whatever the reason, Drozd said he expects it to mean that he’ll end the year in the red – having spent more to tend to his crops than he earns selling them.

“It’s just that much harder to make ends meet,” Drozd said.

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