KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A recent pattern of above-average temperatures with little to no rain has been a mixed bag for West Michigan farmers.
“I always think about water when it comes to plants as being the accelerator pedal for growth,” said Bruce MacKellar, a field crops educator with Michigan State University Extension.
But Mother Nature took her foot off the accelerator this season.
“We got into a situation after July 15 where the bottom dropped out of the rainfall, literally,” MacKellar said. “We just didn’t have any in a lot of areas. We had almost no rain.”
“I think it’s some of the most severe drought in the country,” he added.
MacKellar said crops like corn and soybeans are showing the effects of the abnormally hot, dry weather.
“The difference between the amount of water that was applied (using irrigation) is about five inches from what we received from natural rainfall,” he said. “And I could guess that the yields are going to be almost double where we had irrigation.”
But the news isn’t all bad.
“The amount of corn that we raise here, even though we had probably some of the most severe drought stress in the country, probably won’t impact prices very much,” MacKellar said.
He said this year’s weather was good for producing high-sugar content grapes.
“It’s good for the wine industry; it’s good for the juice industry,” he said.
MacKellar said he’s noticed a change in the weather:
“Whether it’s global warming or just a trend, the weather’s changing,” he said.