Drought, Crop Update

Bill's Blog

This growing season continues to be the year with the least amount of drought in the U.S. of any year since the Weekly Drought Monitor was established. Most all of the country has adequate to surplus moisture and the few areas that do not tend to be areas with little agriculture or areas that rely on irrigation.

The map above shows where corn was planted in the U.S. in 2017. You can see the main “Corn Belt” runs from Ohio and S. Michigan west to eastern Colorado. Most of this is field corn used to feed animals.

Soybean planting in 2017

This is soybean planting in 2017. You can see the “Soy Belt” running Ohio to the High Plains and down through the fertile soil of the Mississippi River Valley. Kent County MI is more populated and the northwest part of the county is heavily planted in (yummy) fruit. I just bought 5 pounts of Michigan blueberries…eating some, freezing some. I also had a nice cup of Michigan cherries yesterday.

Corn Conditions 2018/2019

Corn conditions were more similar to last year…a little less “good” and a little more “fair” to “poor”. We had a poor start to planting in many areas due to the persistent rain and wet field conditions. Warmer than average weather has been the rule of late, with Grand Rapids now 3.2° warmer than average for July – the first warmer than average month of 2019. To date, Grand Rapids is 6.27″ above average precipitation for the year and Muskegon is 8.12″ above average for the year. That’s like getting an extra two months of rainfall. We’ve been lucky to have escaped more serious river flooding, though wet fields certainly delayed and even prevented planting over significant parts of the Corn Belt this spring/summer.

From the Michigan Weekly Crop Update: Storms delivered heavy downpours around the state brought relief for some and destruction for others. Rains were heaviest around Benzie, Manistee, Lake and Mason counties. The strong winds that ushered in the storms that broke the span of heat and humidity. High temperatures stressed immature crops, pastures, and hay fields. Early planted Corn began to silk. However, due to the rough planting season, condition varied widely with shallow root systems. Soybean conditions remained static, and more fields were blooming. The winter wheat harvest was underway, with variable yields reported. Reporters also noted that some fields were knocked down during the severe thunderstorms. Dry beans continued to emerge, and some fields were reported to be blooming.

Hay harvest near Sparta MI

Most farmers were able to finish up their first cutting of hay and alfalfa. Pasture conditions declined a bit due to the high temperatures. Vegetables Harvest of early planted sweet corn was beginning in the Southwest. Carrots were making good progress in the West Central region. Fruit: Early season peaches in the Southwest began to ripen. Early varieties began to color. Cherry harvest in the Southwest was winding down. In the Northwest, tart cherries were ripening and gaining size. Early apple varieties in the Southwest were coloring. In the Northwest, apple size increased rapidly. Blueberrharvest of early varieties continued. Yields and quality were good. Blueberry crop harvest began in the Southwest.

There’s plenty of Michigan produce and fruit to choose from at local grocery stores and farm markets. We’ll have lots of good eating from now into the fall.

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