Lingering winter OK for crops so far

Kent County

SPARTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — You would expect to see signs of spring halfway through April, but cold temperatures have so far kept the leaves from turning green.

What that means for West Michigan farmers varies based on what they’re trying to grow.

“Last year around this time, we had a lot of green tissue out, we were very susceptible to frost and subsequently we ended up in a frost situation and ended up losing about 30 percent of our crop,” Rob Steffens, the owner of Steffens Orchards near Sparta, said Monday.

The colder weather has kept his trees dormant. He said he’ll get better yield if they don’t turn green until after the last frost of the season.

“Most people do not like this weather this spring, but as an orchardist, I love it,” Steffens said. “I like our chances this year coming out with a full crop.”

The continuing winter is causing some minor headaches for farmers who cultivate field crops like corn.

“We’re in, I think, a two-week delay,” farmer Ken Zahm of K&H Grain Inc. told 24 Hour News 8 over the phone. “A couple years ago, we probably started planting around the 23rd and I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think we’re about two weeks away from that.”

He said yields are still expected to be OK, but it will be a little more hectic around the farm.

“It’s more of a time crunch than a yield thing right now. It’s more just going to crunch things together a little bit tighter,” Zahm said.

He says attitude is everything in getting through this cold spell and getting back on track.

“You still try to keep a positive attitude about it and hope things turn around and things will usually turn out pretty good,” he said.

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