Sponsored by AgroLiquid Fertilizers
Welcome to our 2016 Field Focus sponsored by AgroLiquid Fertilizers.
As the harvest season comes to an end, so does Field Focus, a series of reports from farmers all over the state.
This year your class of reporters were all involved in Michigan Farm Bureau’s ProFile class. The Professional Institute for Leadership Education is a 15-month program that develops people’s personal potential into strong leadership and advocacy, with an eye on helping them lead others to promote Michigan’s agricultural diversity.
Next year, we’ll have a whole new set of reporters. See you in the spring!
Jess & Chelsea Erler (Osceola County)
Jess and his family run an equine business including show services, riding lessons and horse training. They also run a beef cow/calf operation.
All in all, 2016 was a really good year for us. Spring started with us thinking that we were going to have a dry year, but turned around to give us a very good first-cutting hay crop yield. Cows and calves were able to be put out to pasture earlier than expected.
Our June and July rain helped our pastures exceed expectations. It also give our oats and second-cutting a needed boost for the coming dry weather. This was one of only a handful of years that our round bales were off the fields and in the barn before the fields started to grow again. Second cutting was not as big as of a harvest as we had hoped but was still adequate. Our oats gave us an awesome yield in comparison. Anything we had planned to maybe get third cutting from became pasture for the cows and calves.
Cattle prices really dropped this fall, but still paid the bills. Even with all the variables that we as farmers dealt with this growing season, we will have plenty of feed for winter for cattle and horses. Our horse and cattle operations were able to be joined on one property, as my wife and I made our first land purchase this fall.
Our little operation has grown so much this year, as our family has as well. Our daughter is getting so big. She started this spring crawling and now is running to play and learn about anything she can get to. She is growing up so fast. The Lord has certainly blessed us in ways beyond I could ever ask (and in better ways, too).
Paul & Nancy Pyle (Ottawa County)
Along with his family, Paul runs a 6th generation dairy farm in Ottawa county that has been in the family since 1848. In addition to caring for the milking herd and raising heifers, they grow corn, hay, wheat, and soybeans (and with his wife Nancy, is growing five kids.)
As I write this on the first day of November, we finished up corn harvest today, and took off our soybeans today too. Feels great to have those done! Corn yields were pretty average and beans were just above average. From the reports in our area, yields are about as spotty as the summer rains.
It's really wet here now and several area combines are running with tracks on. Ruts are everywhere. It's going to be a challenge to finish spreading manure, but we hope to wrap that up by the middle of November.
It's been a good year, especially given the lack of rain we had this summer. Once again it seems there is no such thing as a normal year, always a challenge in one area or another.
Still we are certainly blessed. Not only with a good crop, but also for the opportunity to farm, to care for the land and animals, and to see God's handiwork on a daily basis. I hope you all have time during the upcoming holiday season to take notice of and enjoy all those gifts. Especially God's gift of eternal life through the life and death of his son. I pray that you are able to live in, and share, the joy and peace that this gift brings both today and throughout the coming year!
Andrew Heinitz ( Van Buren County)
Andrew works for a farm that grows seed corn for Monsanto, commercial corn and soybeans.
Sarah Lightner ( Jackson County)
Sarah and family operate a custom hay baling and wrapping operation and raise hay, soybeans and corn. They also raise a small herd of cattle. Having a successful farm business operation allows Sarah to have a hobby job as a Jackson County Commissioner, which allows her to spend time serving her community.
The harvest season is upon us. The planning season for planting 2017 is in order. We have been blessed with more than enough rain in our county, though not always at the best time, which is resulting in not ideal yields.
The hay season was very productive for our clients who made high- moisture feed, so the cows should be happy this winter.
Cheers to an abundant harvest, fellow farm friends, and best of luck for the 2017 season! Enjoy your friends and family this Thanksgiving Season!
Kevin Messing (Huron County)
Kevin is an Agriculturist with Michigan Sugar Company. He and his family also raise alfalfa, corn, wheat, soybeans, and dry beans along with a 250-cow dairy operation.
The fields in the Thumb area are starting to look bare. A lot of corn has come off in the last few weeks. Just like everything else, yields have been great, but prices, not so much.
With a favorable forecast for the first 10 days of November, most all of the corn and a good share of fall tillage should get completed.
Sugar beet harvest is in a battle with warm weather. We started on the 24th of October and have already had a couple warm weather shutdowns, much like last year. In just one week of delivery, we've progressed from 25 percent to more than 60 percent harvested. Warm temperatures look to be our biggest obstacle to completing harvest, but we should be about done when everyone heads to the deer blind on Nov. 15.
Nathan Clarke (Midland County)
Nathan and his family raise corn, soybeans, wheat, dry beans and pickles. They also run a dry bean processing facility.
The 2016 growing season was not without its own set of unique challenges, and as the saying goes "a dry year will scare you to death and a wet year will starve you to death." I guess we can consider ourselves fortunate that dry rather than wet weather prevailed this year.
We started the season in April planting corn and soybeans in favorable conditions, and as a result had good stands. However, by May we were praying for enough moisture to plant dry beans and pickles, and did receive just enough to stay on schedule and keep the corn alive, although it was showing signs of stress.
The overall dry weather continued through the summer with the exception of a nice rain in July that saved our season in my opinion, and did not have a detrimental effect on our pickle crop, which ended up well-above average.
Black beans took the dry weather in stride and overall the yield was average and condition excellent. Corn is coming off slightly below average yield and in the high teens to low twenties for moisture, which is good news for drying.
Overall 2016 has turned out far better than it could have. We have not experienced any major crop failures, everyone on our farm is healthy, and we are all looking forward to another season doing what we love in 2017.
Katelyn Thompson (Menominee County)
Katelyn and family run a beef cow/calf operation and produces farm signs and livestock award designs. She works with MSU Extension in Menominee County.
As we move toward the end of the harvest season, it has been a good growing year in the Upper Peninsula for most crops. Menominee county diary framers had an excellent corn silage harvest this year with much corn grain for harvest as well. Potato growers also saw a good year with good quantity and quality ending with wrapping up harvest a little earlier than usual.
Dry bean growers yields were more stressed this year with the short supply of rain in July. With normal to above-average forage production this year livestock producers should be heading into winter well stocked.