Nuggets of knowledge will be harvested from the 2011 field crop season

If you don’t like the weather, just wait, it will change. This common Michgian saying was certainly true in 2011. So what did farmers learn from the experience and how can it be used in the future? Find out at the Michigan Ag Commodities Educational Expo.

A headline from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Report read, “Wrapping up Planting - weather was nice and dry the first part of the week, which allowed growers to continue planting.” This would be a prefectly normal quote except it was June 13, 2011. This report went on to say that corn was 96 percent planted and soybeans were 82 percent planted for the week ending June 12. This was up from just seven days prior when corn was just 86 percent planted and only half of the soybeans were in the ground.

Planting in the spring of 2011 was difficult! By June 12, most of the Lower Peninsula was over 2 inches above normal precipitation for the period beginning April 1. Michigan’s east central, southwest, south central and southeast regions reported more than 4 inches above normal. It was wet! Farmers had to make a lot of hard decisions on a lot of acres. And there was a lot of money riding on those decisions.

June brought discussions on prevented planting for corn and crop insurance. Farmers were also talking about switching acres from corn to soybeans. When the break in the weather finally came, farmers were finally able to resume planting. But conditions were not always the best.

Planting outside of the “ideal window” of early May put corn emergence, pollination and grain fill in a different part of the calendar. Insect preasure also fell at different stages of plant development. Reports from central Michigan saw greater black cutworm damage to late-planted corn, but if you were in southwest Michigan, there was almost no black cutworm damage to corn planted after May18.

Where you are located in the state, the type of soil you have to work with and a little luck (good or bad) all dictated how the early June decisions played out on individual farms.

Learning from our experiences, even if no two years are alike, will help us deal with variable conditions in future years. A farmer panel, moderated by Michigan Sate University’s Kurt Thelen, will address lessons learned from the 2011 growing season during the Michigan Ag Commodities Educational Expo. Please plan to join in on the discussion.

Whether you’re talking about the weather or government regulations, agriculture’s changing climate continues to challenge Michigan farmers. That’s why MSU Extension is bringing farmers and agriculture professionals with interests in various major agricultural commodities together to learn more about the changes on the horizon. The Michigan Ag Commodities Educational Expo will take place on Jan. 26, 2012, at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Mich.

The Michigan Ag Commodity Educational Expo takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The registration fee is $75 if paid by Jan. 1. After that, the fee is $90. You can register electronically by visiting, or you can register by contacting Megghan Honke at 517-353-3175, ext. 229.

Read other articles related to late planting and high feed costs.

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