‘Crop production has been all over the map’

MSU Extension explains summer weather’s impact on crops

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY — Dry spells and fluctuations in temperature have impacted farms in St. Joseph County.
Eric Anderson, field crops educator at Michigan State University Extension in Centreville, said while there is “no normal year in terms of Michigan weather,” the weather from late spring to summer has affected the crops in several ways.
“May was cold and wet, so that kept a lot of people out of the field until mid-May,” he said.
“The relatively cool start probably is not an issue, but some [farmers] got delayed in planting until June. The only problem with [a late start] is that your root growth isn’t actually starting until mid or late June and your hot periods come in July and August, so you may not have enough root capacity to draw the water that is at depth.”
Anderson said rain has been very spotty all over the county.
“If I look at the last two weeks of rain, there will be some places in the region that got maybe less than a tenth of an inch and some others may have gotten two and a half inches,” he said.
Overall, Anderson said it has been an unusually dry summer, which has caused stress to crops on fields that are not irrigated.  
“Once we got to July (and) August, it has been unseasonably dry overall for the region. The crops that are not irrigated have shown some stress, especially during the first half of the dry season,” Anderson said.
Due to the dry and hot weather, Anderson said he has recently noticed a spike in spider mites.
“One of the things that we have seen in the last weeks or so is the spider mite. It is not a spider, but a microscopic [organism],” he said.“[Spider mites] like it hot and dry and so when you have an extended period where it is hot and dry, you will see a lot of damage. In fact, I just visited a field off of M86 that showed signs of spider mite damage.”
Please see Saturday’s Commercial-News print or e-edition for the full article.

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