Exceptional harvests to be discussed at annual 'Crop Day' gathering

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While the equipment may be sitting idle in December, such as at this Billmeyer Hwy. farm, farmers are always thinking about next year's crop. Local agricultural agencies report that 2013 was a banner year for producers with higher than expected yields. Photo by Deb Wuethrich.

Farmers who were growing corn, soybeans and any number of crops in 2013 had an exceptional harvest this past fall. Producers who offered land for Center for Excellence demonstration plots found no exception to the great yields, and they will be sharing information at the Center for Excellence 16th Annual Crop Day Meeting on Friday, Jan. 3 at The Centre (formerly Christian Family Centre) in Adrian.

“I could give out names of those who have been farming for 50 years who have never had yields like they’ve had this year,” said Tom Van Wagner, consultant for the Lenawee Conservation District and one of the Center for Excellence coordinators for many years. “There are a lot of very positive attitudes out there in the farming community because they grew crops like never before.”

Van Wagner said Bakerlads Farms, one of the Center’s demonstration sites, averaged 80 bushels of corn per acre last year and averaged approximately 185 bushels this year, with some fields producing 200 bushels.

“That’s just incredible, and soybean yields were over 60 bushels, which last year were in the 30s,” he added. “Things are really shaping up and we’re going to have twice the crop to report over last year. We grew some of our test plots all over the county this year and called it ‘Center for Excellence on the Road.’”

He said the demonstrations included strip trials that featured nitrogen management practices on more than 20 farms on farms across the county, and those results would also be discussed.

The Crops Day, sponsored by local agricultural agencies and businesses, is always held the first Friday in January and includes presentation of results along with educational programming and a lunch. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the program concludes at approximately 3:30 p.m. RSVPs for a lunch count may be made by calling 263.7400, Ext. 3.

The day’s talks will include speakers from the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, the Michigan Corn Marketing Program, the Michigan Wheat Program, Michigan State University, and The Nature Conservancy, as well as host farmers Blaine Baker and Tim Stutzman and local agency representatives. A Farm Bill update will be given, along with a presentation on the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program.

One of the topics being addressed in Lenawee County landowner circles, whether farmers or others who steward property in the county, is the reported increase of algae bloom in Lake Erie.

“We’ll have speakers talking about how farmers can help manage the nitrogen that goes into the waterways,” said Kathlene Kurowicki, Lenawee Conservation District Director. “The goal is to eliminate or lessen that.” Experts still attribute much of the issue to agricultural run-off, but Van Wagner said it’s not just from farming — landowners who put chemicals on lawns can also contribute.

“Farmers have always worked voluntarily on issues like this,” said Van Wagner. “They don’t want to pollute. They want to be good stewards of the land and waterways. We just have to make sure that there is an environmental balance so there isn’t more fertilizer put on than needed, and farmers don’t want to put on any more than they need to either, because it’s costly. This is one of the things we’ll be discussing at the Crops Day this year.”




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