Lack of Rain Affecting Local Farmers’ Businesses

Local farmers say the inconsistent rain we’ve gotten this summer may damage their crops – and their business.Corn

Four Green Fields Farm in Mecosta County has been around since 2003.

They say they rely on agritourism rather than the production of crops.

“People are coming here to go through our corn maze,” said owner Kevin Courtney. “We have a u-pick pumpkin patch, and we do wagon rides with our horse.”

But right now, their seven acres of corn are not “knee high by 4th of July”.

“It’s been very strange. The early spring was cold and damp, which is actually very good for the hay. So our hay production was good for the first cut where it should be,” Courtney said. “But the lack of rain since probably the 1st of June has made it very difficult for our corn.”

And it’s not so much the sale of the crops Courtney is worried about – it’s the business they get in the fall.

“We’ll have about 3,500 people come to the farm in the fall,” he said. “One of the things we do is a haunted maze on Friday and Saturday nights in October, and each night we have a different group do the haunting. In return for their doing the haunting, they get to keep half the night’s proceeds. So for some of these groups, it’s a major fundraiser. They might make anywhere from 600 to $900 in a single night.”

Without a solid schedule of rain, there’s many things that could happen to the crops.

“You also have stressed out plants,” said NanBop Farm Director Andrea Bushre. “That also means things like pests and diseases are more prevalent because you’re not giving the plants as much water.”

Bushre says having irrigation helps, but it hurts the wallet.

“In my experience, I worked mostly on vegetable farms and then obviously livestock with it,” she said. “That means we have to rely a lot more on irrigation, which depending on where your farm is, could be a lot more expensive for you.”

Four Green Fields doesn’t have irrigation, and it would cost about $10,000 to install.

But there’s still time for Courtney and his corn crops.

“I don’t open officially until the last weekend of September, so I’ve got time,” he said. “But if it doesn’t grow now, it’s not going to grow.”