GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The lack of rain is being felt by farmers across West Michigan and those with irrigation are having to rely more on the systems to get through.
The Michigan Farm Bureau says crops like wheat, corn and soybeans could be most affected. Most farmers in West Michigan do not irrigate those crops. Theresa Sisung, the industry relations specialist with the Farm Breau, says wheat is the biggest concern because of the stage of development the crop is in now.
“Right now, they’re to the point where they’re starting to flower and during that time period, you really don’t want a drought because that’s when that yield gets put on, that’s when you have that grain fill,” Sisung said.
Jeff Sandborn grows corn, soybeans and wheat at his family farm near Portland and is bracing for the possibility of a tough year.
“The last really rain event we had was early April so it’s been two months. And we’ve had a couple shots of just two-tenths of an inch each but that’s not enough to do more than just settle the dust,” Sandborn said.
The planting season started out strong but the latest dry spell could have a lasting effect.
“Planting was really nice because we didn’t have any rain. It never slowed you down. You didn’t get a day to take a break when, like we normally do, but that’s not a good thing either,” Sandborn said.
Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery near Grand Rapids is working to keep its irrigation systems operating through the dry spell. The farm has put woodchips around the base of the newly planted apple trees to help retain moisture from the irrigation system under the soil, according to Alan Robinette, the orchard manager.
The 6.5-acre corn maze is his biggest concern.
“We don’t have the capacity to irrigate so that’s something that we may have to — if we stay too dry, if the weather we have forecasted this weekend doesn’t come — we may look at replanting later when there’s more rain,” Robinette said.