Wet Weather, Cool Temps Slow Start of Corn Planting

By this time of year, corn farmers should be in the middle of planting their crop but the weather so far has flooded them out.

The cool, soggy spring has not allowed most Michigan farmers to get into their fields and properly plant their corn. With every day delayed, it gets less likely to reach maturity in time for harvest.

“The biggest hold up right now is just waiting for the ground to get warm enough and dry enough for us to go out and work,” says Jerry Neyer, a dairy farmer and commercial harvester in Isabella County.

You can’t plant in mud and many Michigan corn fields are saturated, many flooded, pushing back planting of crucial crops.

“Our yields could go down anywhere from 20-50% depending upon the crop,” says Neyer.

Over the past five years, usually 34% of the state’s corn is planted by May 13th. Right now, Michigan has put in just 5%, shortening already a tight growing season.

“Just a few percentage points or a few bushels of yield in difference makes a difference between whether you make it by this year or you lose,” says Neyer.

Many farmers were not able to finish their tilling last Fall due to wet conditions and an early freeze. A wet Fall, followed by a wet Spring and low commodity prices are all stacking on top of each other, putting farmers behind the 8-ball before the season even starts.

“If we don’t get the stuff in by June 1, it’s going to affect our yield,” says Neyer, “We will have to think about putting in a crop that is a shorter day crop, that will mature earlier.”

Those come with lower yields. Not a good foot forward when the price of corn is already so low due to the success of other regions around the globe. The U.S. gets hit twice.

“It could help if you have a good yield and somebody else has a poor yield,” says Neyer, “If you’re the one that has a poor yield, then you lose both ways.”