Eaton County farmer forum on Sept. 5 to discuss resources available to farms affected by weather conditions

Farmers can learn what assistance is available and how to mitigate potential financial pitfalls due to delayed or unplanted acreage.

Water runoff in delayed planted field. Photo by Paul Gross, MSU Extension.

A high percentage of Eaton County’s farmland was not planted due to excess moisture last fall and this spring, and some are now dealing with drought damage. The Eaton County Board of Commissioners and MSU Extension are hosting a program September 5, which is designed to provide farmers with information and resources to deal with this year’s extremely unusual and adverse weather situation.

Fields were wet during May and June with very few days, if any, where ground conditions were suitable for fieldwork activity. Eaton County has an abundance of heavy soils with high water holding capacity. During excessive moisture events, this can be detrimental to ideal planting or growing conditions. Subsurface and surface drainage is critical for these soils to be useful to grow crops. Even well drained soils with below surface drain tiles had difficulties. Crops affected the most were corn, soybeans and some wheat. 

In contrast, since the end of June significant rain fall has been spotty and the lower central part of Michigan including parts of Eaton County is in a drought situation.

Michigan has 870,026 acres that were reported as prevented plantings in an August 12, 2019 report released by USDA. Of those acres, 498,046 were corn, 349,481 were soybeans and 20,366 were wheat along with a few other crops. Only six other states in the country had more total prevent plant acres than Michigan. Michigan and Ohio are tied as the two states with the highest percentage of cropland not planted at 18.6%.

Eaton County has 50,339 acres or 31.64%, the fifth largest prevented and failed acres in Michigan.

The spring rains and extreme weather conditions will have implications beyond the fall harvest. The long-range implications are significant to Eaton County’s general economy. Production agriculture is a major driver of economic activity. Seed, fertilizer, crop protectant, fuel, and parts suppliers are all significantly negatively impacted along with truckers, ethanol producers, livestock producers, and other end users in the production chain.

Farmers are encouraged to join MSU Extension and the Eaton County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, September 5 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Eaton Area Senior Center, 804 S. Cochran Avenue, in Charlotte, Mich.

 The event will feature informational booths with resources for Eaton County farmers as well as sessions on topics including:

  • Farm Bill update and ARC County- PLC decision
  • Farm Financial Management
  • Property tax options - with Eaton County Treasurer Bob Robinson
  • Crop alternatives - including MDARD’s perspective on industrial hemp
  • Farm stress management
  • The Governor’s office perspectives
  • Market Facilitation Program
  • Weed management

A light breakfast and lunch will be provided. There is no charge to attend the program, however pre-registration is highly recommended. Please register online at: or by calling the Eaton County MSU Extension office at 517-543-2310. Walk-in’s are welcome but space may be limited.

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