The dry conditions have kept plant diseases from flourishing in edible bean crops. Notoriously susceptible to no end of ailments, most bean varieties are holding their own and developing well. Growers report navy, black and other bean varieties are blossoming and setting pods, depending on the variety.
Michigan is the no. 2 producer of dry beans after North Dakota, and the top grower of black, cranberry and small red beans.
Sugar beet growers are reporting their sweet root crops are generally doing well, with most areas showing little stress yet from the lack of rain, in part because the plant is naturally accustomed to digging deep into the soil for moisture.
Livestock farmers nervous
The vast majority of row crops—corn and soybeans, especially—go toward feeding livestock. Accordingly, cattlemen, swine producers and poultry farmers have a keen eye on drought conditions' impact on pasture, hay and feed crops.
Between low nationwide corn stocks to start the year and prospects for a fair 2012 crop fading, the price of corn and other feedstock commodities has soared. Feed will not only be more expensive, it will also be in short supply.
Farmers must also be wary of prematurely cutting drought-stressed corn for use as silage, a nutritious blend of chopped and partially fermented plant material. The stalks of underdeveloped corn plants, especially those stunted by drought, can sometimes contain unhealthy levels of nitrates, stored up in anticipation of developing an ear. Silage made from such corn often needs to be diluted with other feed to maintain maximum nutritional value.