With spring dragging its feet, Michigan's row crop farmers are eager to hit the fields and get their 2013 growing season under way. According to information released this week by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Michigan Field Office, wheat acreage is up from last year, and corn is losing some ground to soybeans.
"Spring weather plays a big role in what actually gets done and when," says Bob Boehm, Michigan Farm Bureau's commodity and marketing specialist. "If you have a late spring like we've got this year, you're likely to see less corn and more soybeans and dry edible beans, just because they have a shorter growing season."
In Michigan, Boehm says, sugar beets are typically planted first, followed by corn, then soybeans and dry beans.
"The beets will still go in first, and yes, you may see fewer acres of corn, but keep in mind these are just planting intentions as of March 1," Boehm says. "Here we are into April and we haven't turned a wheel yet anywhere in the state."
Michigan soybean plantings are estimated at 2.1 million acres this year—up 100,000 acres from 2012—while corn slipped 50,000 acres from last year to total 2.6 million. Last year's drought took a toll on corn yields across the Midwest, and while Michigan suffered less than most of the Corn Belt, production still fell significantly short of 2011's record production of 335 million bushels.
Following a banner harvest last summer, wheat growers planted 20,000 more acres last fall than the prior year—590,000 acres total. That's still substantially lower than the 700,000 acres harvested in 2011, which yielded the state's production record of 51 million bushels. Plantings that fall slipped approximately 130,000 acres, but yielded in 2012 a record 76 bushels per acre.
Dry edible bean planting intentions for 2013 are 190,000 acres, down 10,000 acres from last year. Plantings of the state's other common row crops—barley, hay and oats—remain steady compared to recent years.
NASS' annual prospective plantings report represents the first official look at the 2013 crop year, based on estimates from a poll of farmers' stated planting intentions.