LANSING — Soon Michigan farmers will start planting millions of acres of corn, cultivating what has become a billion-dollar business in the state.
Farming is one of the top three industries in Michigan, and corn one of the top crops.
“Agriculture in Michigan has been a growing industry, contributing a great deal to the state’s economy,” said Kate Thiel, a field crop specialist for the Michigan Farm Bureau and its 46,500 member farmers.
One of the largest crops in Michigan is corn, Thiel said. Michigan farmers grew about 2.4 million acres of corn for grain in 2016, generating $1.1 billion last year – despite a price drop.
“While corn growers have seen a decrease in value of their product in recent years due to decreased commodity prices, they still play a large role in Michigan’s economy,” she said.Continue reading →
LANSING — As the weather continues to fluctuate around the state, farmers are being forced to adapt to changing conditions.
Amanda Shreve, the program director for the Michigan Farmers Market Association, said farmers can adapt to virtually any weather condition. She also said that as a result of warmer weather for longer periods throughout the year, farmers markets open earlier in the year and close later than they used to.
“We used to have a general farmers market season of July – September, but now we see a lot of markets starting in May and going all the way through October or November,” Shreve said.
Some crops come in early as a result of the warmer temperatures, too. Maple syrup is set to come in about a month early, said Savannah Halleaux, a public affairs officer for Michigan’s Federal Service Agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Continue reading →
LANSING — Good news for Michigan vineyards: the time grapes have to ripen has dramatically increased over the past few decades.
“It’s nearly grown an entire month in just four decades,” said Steven Schultze, an assistant professor of geography at the University of South Alabama who discovered the shift as a doctoral student at Michigan State University.
“One of our biggest findings, just since 1971, the growing season in Southwest Michigan has increased by 28.8 days,” Schultze said.Continue reading →
Wayne State University anthropologist Julie Lesnick
LANSING — Michiganders raised on meat and potatoes may soon notice a new high-protein food on their plates.
That is if entomophagy experts can convince people to eat bugs.
Michigan is among the areas where insect agriculture is expanding to meet the demands of a looming global food scarcity crisis, experts say. Wayne State University hosted the first North American conference on eating insects last May in Detroit. And a Detroit company is working with state regulators to launch the state’s first urban insect farm.
Wild rice, or manoomin, is a traditional food for many Native Americans. Image: Barb Barton
LANSING — After decades of leaving wild rice management to Native American tribes, state officials are gearing up to track how some government agencies handle wild rice issues.
Wild rice, or manoomin, is a seed that is a traditional food for many Native Americans. The plant grows in shallow water, and wild rice stands are peppered in various, often hush-hush, locations throughout the state.
A misconception exists that wild rice was never important in Michigan, said Barb Barton, an endangered species consultant from Lansing who is writing a book about wild rice in Michigan. Continue reading →
Commercial pennycress field in April. Image: Jerry Steiner, Arvegenix
LANSING — A new crop could add a harvesting season for farmers in Michigan and elsewhere in the Midwest, a spring harvest rather than the traditional fall.
Pennycress is planted in August or September, toward the end of the corn season. It continues until May. Because of this unique characteristic, this member of the mustard family could benefit both the environment and farming, according to agricultural researchers.
The plant is valued for the oil produced from the seeds which can be used as a raw material for biodiesel. And pennycress helps meet federal and state goals to reduce the production of carbon that contributes to climate change.
The plant may see its rise in Michigan soon.
Metro Ag Services, located in Detroit, plans to build a 30 million gallon oil processing facility in Flint, said Lance Stokes, a research specialist at Metro Ag Services. It will serve nearby farms and cut the distance that farmers must send harvested pennycress.Continue reading →
LANSING — Small coastal communities are laying the groundwork to bring cash to their waterfronts.
Community members, researchers, designers, engineers and others are helping six small harbor communities plan for the future. And the effort, coordinated by Michigan Sea Grant, could have a statewide impact by modeling development strategies for other coastal communities, creating safe harbors for recreational boaters and spurring tourism.
Four communities last year participated in a program that helps to develop five-year plans for their waterfronts: Ontonagon, Pentwater, Au Gres and New Baltimore. Two more – St. Ignace and Rogers City – will go through the process in October.
More than 80 communities with small public harbors will benefit from the program because the planning materials it develops will be available free through Sea Grant.Continue reading →
Phragmites australis is abundant throughout the Great Lakes region.
LANSING — Invasive plants can grow so thick and tall they hide the world’s greatest Lakes.
“In the lower part of the state it’s pretty bad,” said Laura Bourgeau-Chavez, a research scientist with Michigan Technological University. “We were doing work in Saginaw Bay, and there are kids who live there and they don’t even know there’s water there because the weeds are so tall.
“So they’re unable to take advantage of the fact that they live next to a Great Lake.”
LANSING — In the past few weeks, 35-year-old John Krohn estimates his urban farm in Lansing has donated 40 pounds of food to people in need.
But don’t call it giving back.
“I don’t feel like I’m giving back because I don’t owe anybody anything,” Krohn said.
Call it community. A community Krohn said he relies on as a market, and the community where he has chosen to live.
Brigitte Derel, 35, also wants to feed her community. She sells food from her small rural farm in Chatham in the Upper Peninsula at farmers markets and also works for the Marquette Food Co-Op. Continue reading →