Michigan corn crop in jeopardy if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate

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HAMILTON, Mich. --Michigan’s corn crop could have the potential of bringing in $1.1 billion this year but some experts say that could be in jeopardy if Mother Nature doesn’t start cooperating.

Randy Poll, who runs a farm in Hamilton, says overall his crop is doing well but on average experts say the corn crop is about one to two weeks behind.

Poll, like a lot of farmers, got a late start to the season due to the wet and cold spring.

“Then we had some decent growing weather, we had some heat, stuff came up really good but then two weeks ago hit that cold snap, things slowed down,” he said.

A cooler July could mean more trouble down the road. “Anytime corn gets less than 50 degrees it will stop growing so these cold nights it will just shut down. It doesn’t hurt, it just will stop growing.”

Jim Zook, executive director of the Michigan Corn Growers Association, says it’s what the future holds that will really matter, like just how much heat we get until that first hard frost.

Corn needs a certain amount of heat or GDU's to reach maturity and if that doesn’t happen before a freeze it could cause damage.

Zook says the current price at $3.25 a bushel will bring in the expected $1.1 billion, but if the conditions don’t improve Kook estimates 4 percent of the crop could be damaged, or roughly $40 million worth.

As for Poll, he says his crop is above average right now but it’s hard to say what the potential will be.

“It’s Mother Nature, so you just kind of work with the hand you’re dealt. Weather has a way of averaging itself out so if we had a late spring a lot of times that means a late fall, so Mother Nature kind of has a way of taking care of it itself, so we’re just banking on that.”

Zook says consumers shouldn’t see a difference at the store and overall they are actually expecting a bigger crop than in years past. That is, of course, if the weather cooperates.


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