Late plantings likely mean supply gaps for Michigan crops - The Packer

Late plantings likely mean supply gaps for Michigan crops

06/09/2011 10:35:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

While some warm days at the beginning of June had Michigan growers’ hopes up, May was spent battling wet fields to get crops in the ground in time for spring and summer harvest. Many in the industry project harvest dates a week or two behind normal and supply gaps that echo days and weeks when workers couldn’t get into the fields to plant.

“The biggest problem is it has been too wet to lay plastic and fumigate,” said Russell Costanza, owner of Russell Costanza Farms, Sodus, Mich. “But it doesn’t take long to catch up. Have we gotten critical yet? No, at least not here.”

The five weeks leading up to the Fourth of July is the critical time for growing, so if the weather stays warm as it has the first week of June, growers may be able to catch up, said Gene Talsma, president of Crispheart Produce Inc., Hudsonville, Mich. Crispheart grows and markets celery and celery hearts and distributes a full line of Michigan vegetables.

E. Miedema & Sons Inc., Byron Center, Mich., acquired some new acreage this season for sweet corn, but because of the weather won’t be able to plant it all.

“It was so wet and cold in April, the wettest spring since I started farming in the early ’70s, so it’s just been totally unusual,” said Dave Miedema, president.

Miedema said the company is on track with cabbage because of the way it’s planted, but is behind on squash and sweet corn.

“We usually start (sweet corn) July 20, but that’s not going to happen this year,” Miedema said.

Michigan isn’t the only state having trouble with sweet corn, Miedema said. Weather patterns in most corn-growing states will likely leave the industry short on the commodity through most of the summer, which should keep markets strong, Miedema predicted.

Todd Miedema, marketing director and principal in Miedema Produce Inc., Hudsonville, Mich., said the weather problems are happening across the Midwest.

“Most of growers are right on the edge,” Todd Miedema said May 31. “If we get some hard rains, we’re going to suffer some product loss. The spring has been very late, very wet and cold, but we finally got some heat units going here this weekend.”

Todd Miedema said every grower has its go-to places on the farm, land that can be used when most of the ground is too wet. This year, everyone has exhausted that land and is still running into issues planting the rest of their crops.

“When you’re not getting enough of your product in the field in a timely fashion, it’s going to lead to product shortages later on,” Todd Miedema said.


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