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Monday, 07 April 2014 09:59

Crop Farmers Waiting for Solid Ground

(AREA) -- Area farmers will be planting Michigan's big-acreage row crops a bit later than normal this year due to the long winter. They are waiting for some sun, wind and warmth make the fields firm enough to work up. Below-normal temperatures also have farmers sidelined, but with technology on their side, nobody's yet sounding the alarm. With a long growing season and the ability to germinate at soil temperatures in the 40's, sugar beets are traditionally the first Michigan row crop to be planted in the spring. Farm Bureau field staff report "nothing going on" in the rich, but waterlogged, fields of the Thumb and Saginaw Valley, where sugar beet cultivation is centered. Optimistic producers hope to be planting by April 15, but most realists are eyeing the 20 at best.

Corn planting follows next, as soon as soil temperatures reach the 50's. According to recent figures from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Michigan farmers anticipate planting roughly the same amount of corn as they did last year, approximately 2.60 million acres. Michigan soybean plantings this year are expected to increase to 2.1 million acres from the previous year's 1.9 million. Plantings of dry, edible beans will be up this year as well, from 175,000 acres last year to 185,000 acres. Michigan leads the nation in several varieties of edible beans, second only to North Dakota in navy beans and total dry bean production. Dry beans are the last of the major row crops to be planted, thanks to a relatively short growing season.