Weather, Crop Conditions, Blueberry Crop AgDay 07 14 20

Possible record-setting heat is expected to continue this week in the Southern Plains and lower Mississippi Valley. For other areas, relief from the heat could be short-lived.

“Lots of triple digit [temperatures] for much of Texas, much of the southwest half of Oklahoma and of course, into the Four Corners region,” says AgDay meteorologist Mike Hoffman. “This heat is going to start to expand farther northward as we head through the week.”

The temperatures from earlier in the month were a factor in the last USDA Crop Progress report released on Monday.

The department trimmed both the corn and soybean ratings Monday from the previous week in the “good” to “excellent” category.

USDA reports 69% of the corn is good to excellent. That's compared to 71% last week. The soybean condition also worsened with 68% of the crop now rated in the “good” to “excellent” category.

Southwest Michigan is an area that hasn't received a lot of rain over the last couple of weeks. The state is also one of the largest blueberry producing states in the country. Stover's Farm Market and U-Pic is running in Berrien Springs, Mich.

Customers are coming to buy and pick as Stover says the blueberry crop is a good one this year.

“The blueberry crop looks very nice,” says Kenny Stover, owner of Stover’s Farm Market and U-Pic in Berrien Springs, Mich. “We had ideal conditions right at bloom. The bees were flying.”

Stover went nearly six weeks with less than a half inch of rain before the weekend. Luckily, he received just less than an inch recently.

“The stretch that we’re on right now, I don’t remember too many consecutive days of 90 degree [temperatures] in the last few summers, at least for us,” says Stover.

Meteorologists say growers in southwest Michigan will have to continue to deal with that heat

this week, but there could be some relief.

“It’s looking as if [later this week] the heat combined with a lot of moisture could produce some pop-up showers and thunderstorms,” says AgDay meteorologist, Matt Yarosewick. “Other than that, things look pretty dry through next weekend.”

Stover says despite the heat, he should have a full blueberry crop and a good yield.

“We really could use some rain,” says Stover. “Again, we put in infrastructure years ago so we are able to keep them well-watered.”

“When we get real hot and dry conditions like this and people don’t irrigate, there will be portions of the field which dry out,” says Mark Longstroth, Extension fruit educator with Michigan State University Extension. “The leaves turn brown and the berries shrivel up.”

He says most of the crop in Michigan is irrigated. Despite a May freeze in some areas, producers should have close to a full crop. Longstroth says, “I’m thinking we’re going to be in the neighborhood of 80- to 85-million pounds of blueberries [for the state]. The most we’ve ever done is 114 million pounds. Our long-term average is probably 85 [ million pounds]. We are pretty normal.”

In a year like 2020, growers like Stover will take a good crop and the business that comes with it.