by Courtney Culey and Kaitlynn Knopp
Hot weather and a lack of rain cause potato plants on Dragt Farms, 17190 Deaner Road, to dry up.
Courtney Culey/Michigan State University
Nan Jasinowski isn’t praying for colder weather; she’s praying for rain.
Jasinowski and her husband, Ed, own a “mom and pop” farm in Concord, Mich. called Sweet Seasons Orchard. The farm totals 30 acres and brings the couple yearly profits. This year, those profits may be less than what they’re used to.
Jim Hilker, a professor of agriculture resource in the economics department at Michigan State University, said that in Michigan, the lack of rain has caused more damage to crop yields this summer than the heat.
“The hotter it is, the quicker the evaporation and then it all comes back to needing rain again,” Hilker said. “However, this combination of both heat and the lack of rain is worse than either one by itself.”
Jasinowski agreed and said she feels the lack of rain is dangerous. The trees on her property are drying up and fruit sizes are smaller. She expects some of the buds will be destroyed all together because of the weather.
Profits and business could decrease, Hilker said.
Jim Hilker, a professor of agriculture resource in the economics department at Michigan State University, is an expert on agriculture.
A lot of crops in the country are already ruined, so farmers have less to harvest and therefore less to sell. Hilker said basic supply and demand tells us that if a farmer has only a small supply of a certain crop, consumers will demand more of it. Thus, the price will go up, which could make up for some losses, but not all.
Jasinowski said the harsh weather has decreased her profits, but she can’t pinpoint by exactly how much.
“It’s not easy,” Jasinowski said. “If I don’t have anything to sell, I don’t make a profit.”
Hilker said he expects a big range in revenue for different farmers. Because of the high demand for crops with a low supply, some farmers may do better since the price will be higher.
“My guess is that more farmers will earn lower revenue than higher revenue, Hilker said. “They’ll be hurting by the yield loss.”
Unfortunately, this weather is affecting regions all across the country. Hilker said everywhere is short of moisture, but big parts of Michigan are in bad shape.
Randy Dragt, a farm owner 150 miles northwest of the Jasinowski’s, can testify that the recent Michigan weather is causing havoc.
“There’s just no moisture,” Dragt said.
Dragt owns a large cattle farm called Dragt Farms in Howard City, Mich. and harvests more than 1,000 acres.
So far, Dragt has been able to maintain a profit from the cattle, but as fall approaches, his concerns increase.
Randy Dragt stands in front of a corn field on his property in Howard City, Mich.
In the fall, Dragt harvests his fields, stores crop and sells them. If the corn is dried up, he fears he won’t have enough. If the rye fields go bad, his animals could go hungry. Both outcomes could severely decrease his yearly profit.
Knowing there are negative outcomes at risk for farmers, the weather this year has been under public scrutiny.
Jasinowski said people don’t understand the true damage.
“People don’t realize how much the weather affects a 30-acre farm in Concord, Mich.,” she said. “Most people go to the grocery store and buy their apples. They don’t realize what’s going on.”
However, the farmers’ who have their livelihood on the line see the harm.
“It’s severe, it’s real and we can just hope for the best,” Hilker said.
For more information about the Michigan farms, click here.