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Farmers optimistic warm weather to bring better harvest

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Skudlarek Dairy Farm Manager Jeremy Karsten prepares a cow for milking on Sunday in Posen.

ALPENA — Warmer spring weather means farmers in Northeast Michigan are planting their crops on time and are optimistic for a better harvest than last year.

Last spring, an abundance of rain and cold weather last year meant fewer opportunities for crops to be planted on time. Then the lack of rain before the end of the season didn’t allow crops to fully mature.

Jeremy Karsten, manager at Skudlarek Dairy Farm in Posen, grows about 500-acres of hay, 400-acres of corn, and 100-acres of oats to feed the 250 cows on the farm. Two hundred of those cows produce milk.

Karsten said last spring there were definitely challenges in finding the windows in between the rain to plant the crops. He said crops don’t like “sopping wet fields” and neither does the farming equipment.

“We were pretty late in starting and finishing, but luckily with the dynamics of the dairy business, if we get a crop in (the ground) late, we can still get a crop off for feed for our cattle,” he said.

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Skudlarek Dairy Farm Manager Jeremy Karsten sprays down the milking parlor Sunday in Posen.

Other farmers had a much tougher harvest, he said.

Christian Tollini, field crops educator with the Presque Isle County Michigan State University Extension office, said while it took some time for the weather to heat up, this spring has been much different than last spring.

The main difference, according to Tollini, is the warmer weather, which allowed crops to be planted on time.

“A lot of farmers were able to make quite a bit of progress in planting this spring — much quicker than they were last year,” he said.

Tollini said many of those crops, such as corn and dry beans, sprouted within the last week.

Ty Kalaus, deputy regional director for the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Great Lakes Regional Office, said corn and soybeans are being planted throughout the state.

He said 70% of this year’s corn crop was planted as of May 24, compared to the 29% of corn planted the same time last year and the soybean crop was 64% planted as of May 24, compared to just 19% of soybeans.

Additionally, 97% of sugarbeets have been planted as of May 24 throughout the state compared to 85% last year and 52% of barley was planted as of May 24 compared to 36% last year.

Karsten said he’s hoping to plant the last of the corn today.

He said he’s heard it’s supposed to be a normal summer, “whatever normal is these times.”

“We’re always optimistic for a good year,” he said. “That’s all we can say. Every year we plant for a promise of a good year, and we deal with what we get.”

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.

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