While prospects for a decent 2012 corn crop fade with every day of ongoing drought conditions, most of Michigan's other row crops are faring far better. The recently concluded wheat harvest went off without a hitch and with outstanding yields. Prospects for the state's other key big-acreage crops—soybeans, dry beans and sugar beets—are still good given adequate August rainfall.
"This is two years in a row now that the wheat crop has been a real positive for Michigan agriculture," says Bob Boehm, Michigan Farm Bureau's (MFB) commodity and marketing manager. "With a mild winter and enough moisture earlier in the season, we had a great wheat crop that was mature before the drought set in. We had nice, dry conditions during harvest and good quality. And it came off quickly, without any weather delays."
USDA estimates Michigan's statewide average wheat yield this year at 72 bushels per acre—shy of last year's 75 bushels but well above the 69-bushel average since 2005.
"From a risk management standpoint, our farmers are wise to keep wheat in their rotations," Boehm said. It helps cushion the blow of years like this, when record corn plantings are unlikely to pay off for farmers.
"Farmers did plant the largest corn crop in terms of acreage since the 1930s this year, and at today's yield potentials we were expecting 166 bushels per acre as late as mid-June," Boehm says. "That would've produced a crop approaching 15 billion bushels—the largest in U.S. history."