By Taylor Miller
The Williamston Post Staff Writer
Fall harvest can make or break a farmer economically. “When you plant there is a lot invested”, said Royce Lockwood of Roybar Farm in Williamston. “You have to buy fertilizer, equipment and I even have total insurance on my beans.”
Farmers plant their crops in the spring and wait for the warm weather of the summer and the fall for harvesting.
“It really depends on the weather”, says Lockwood, “We need to get the ground dried off so we can plant it and we need to get the ground dried off in order to harvest.”
Don Oesterle, who is the Vice President of the Ingham County Farm Bureau, agrees with Lockwood.
“Because of the weather patterns during this past spring, we have two different sets of crops; ones that were planted the first of May and ones planted the first of June,” said Oesterle, who has a farm himself.
With crops being 3 to 4 weeks behind schedule in the spring because all of the wet weather, farmer John Allen explains his concern.
“It takes so many degree days to mature any crop and we are behind schedule. The weather man just said he can see this nice weather running through October and we need all the nice weather we can get.”
Allen is an Ingham County Farm Bureau board member, as well as being in charge of managing district two. District two is made up of a cluster of townships in the area, including Williamston.
Allen, Oesterle and Lockwood all expressed that coming off of last seasons harvest puts this years to shame.
“You couldn’t ask for better weather last year if you would have ordered it and planned it ahead,” said Allen.
Allen tests the moisture of a section of his crops to see if it is ready to harvest before taking action.
“You have to take the beans to market at 13 percent moisture and the corn at 14 percent so it’s important to get it right.” Allen makes it clear that straying from that range will affect the farmer economically.
At 80 years old, Royce Lockwood said that he has seen his fair share of successful harvests and harvests that don’t always turn out the way that he hopes. His only wish for the season is a dry week in October to harvest his crops.
When asked to give advice to budding farmers, Lockwood chuckled, “My only advice it to keep your hand out of the corn picker so you don’t loose it.”
Oesterle speaks for farmers everywhere when he says, “Well there’s a risk, but you do it because you love what you do.”