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Effects of wet weather hurt Michigan farmers' harvest

Posted at 4:27 PM, Nov 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-05 05:25:16-05

LANSING, Mich. — A full month behind...that's how one farmer in Mason is describing his harvest this year.

The delay is the result of excessive rain over the spring and summer.

Officials say that there’s been a record of more than 40 inches of rain and flooding, so far, in Michigan.

80 acres have already been harvested at Little Creeks Farm’s field in Mason, but they still have 180 acres left on one field, then there are several other fields to harvest.

The family says it's going to be a long harvest season but they aren't giving up.

Fourth generation farmer, Don Oesterle, says farming is in his blood and is what he loves to do.

“I love that for the most part, you’re outside doing stuff, and it’s always something different,” said Oesterle.

He works at his family farm, Little Creeks, with his twin brother and dad.

“Today hasn’t been that bad. It’s a little, as you can see sticky but at least we can get out here and get something done,” said Oesterle.

But he tells FOX 47 News that they are a full month behind.

"You can't control the weather you can't control how some things happen so you just kinda go with it."

And now, farmers are feeling yet another wave of effects of the wet weather, scrambling to harvest crops before more rain and cold weather hits.

“In my short farming career this has been the hardest,” said Oesterle. “Hardest one so far because we had so much water. There were 60 plus days between the time we first started planting and when we finished planting.”

Oesterle says they didn’t even finish planting until September 29th.

He showed the effects of all that rain on a yield map.

The map is full of bars separated in colors of red, green, and yellow depicting the health of the crop - red areas reveal low yields.

“The water that came (to) this field, it all just sat and so the corn planted had a hard time coming up, and it had a hard time emerging. This corn struggled all year long,” Oesterle said.

According to the map, yields looked even worse for their soybeans.

“Right now, (we're) only half done with soybeans, so we still got a lot sitting out there,” said Oesterle. “You can sit there and worry about it, but for farming, there’s nothing you’re gonna change. You can't control the weather you can't control how some things happen so you just kinda go with it,” he added.

The USDA estimates farmers in Michigan were unable to plant 883,699 acres this year., which is said to be the worst they've seen since they started tracking planting 12 years ago.

Oesterle says they hope to finish harvesting by the beginning of December.

They estimate monetary effects of the harvest delays and low yields will amount to around a quarter of a million dollars.

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