Productivity boost offsets acreage, price declines of corn

Capital News Service
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.

Farm acreage up, climate change partly responsible

LANSING – More crops were planted in the northern Midwest this year than last year, including Michigan, according to a federal report. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report says Michigan farmers planted 300,000 more acres of principal crops in 2014 compared to 2013. One reason may be that warmer temperatures are allowing for a longer growing season, said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri- Business Association. With frost starting later in the year, crops have more time to mature, he said. And higher temperatures are prompting crop production to expand northward.

Some farmers bank on drought-resistant corn

Capital News Service
LANSING – Despite heavy rain, flooding and cold weather, drought-resistant corn could still be helpful to farmers this season. Michigan Corn Growers Association leaders agreed that recent wet weather won’t be bad for corn designed to withstand drought conditions because it will be planted in areas that don’t hold water as well. They added that the corn could still serve its original purpose if there’s little rain in July and August. “Just because we have a bunch of rain now doesn’t mean there won’t be a drought later,” said Scott Lonier, owner of Shady Lodge Farm in Lansing Township and president of the association. However, he said he didn’t buy drought-resistant corn this year because it didn’t yield much better than refuge corn – corn that’s not genetically modified – last year.