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Poor harvest for area farmers

John Jorasz, co-owner of Jorasz Family Farms in Harris Township, inspects corn growing on his farm Monday. According to Jorasz, the growth of corn — among other crops — has been negatively impacted by weather conditions this year. (Photo by Jordan Beck, Escanaba Daily Press)

By JORDAN BECK

Escanaba Daily Press

ESCANABA — Though MSU Extension Field Crop Educator Jim Isleib said 2019’s growing season is “not a disaster,” it has not been easy for local farmers, either.

“It has been average at best,” Isleib said.

This year has been particularly challenging for area farmers in terms of weather conditions. According to Isleib, many farmers got a late start to the growing season this year.

“Planting was delayed, in many cases,” he said.

He noted this was primarily due to unusually wet and cold weather in the U.P., which continued well into the spring months.

In July and for much of August, however, farmers were faced with another problem entirely. Dry weather was seen in the area at that time.

Precipitation has once again been high in the U.P. so far this fall.

“We’ve had a rainy spell for the last few weeks,” Isleib said.

John Jorasz, co-owner of Jorasz Family Farms in Harris Township, said his farm has been heavily impacted by the less-than-optimal weather seen in the area this year.

“It’s been a major struggle — there’s no easy solution,” he said.

He noted depressed prices on milk and grain crops over the last three years have added to this problem.

Jorasz also said his farm has been far from the only one affected by these factors.

“That’s why there’s few dairy farmers left,” he said, adding that over half of the U.P.’s dairy farms went out of business in the past three years.

For Jorasz Family Farms, the beginning of the year’s growing season was delayed due to the cold, wet weather in the area at the time.

“We started planting our crops a month late because of the weather,” Jorasz said.

Planting at the farm began on May 17 this year and wrapped up in mid-June.

Weather in the area stayed wetter and cooler than normal until July.

“It got excessively dry for at least six, seven weeks — at least in this area,” Jorasz said.

According to Jorasz, his farm and Aug. 20.

However, local weather conditions changed once again last month.

“Since September, it just don’t want to quit raining,” Jorasz said.

Hay has been among the crops at Jorasz Family Farms affected by the weather this year.

“The first cutting was probably half of what it should have been — the second cutting probably wasn’t a whole lot better,” Jorasz said.

Many farmers in the area who produce dry hay only had one cutting due to the rainfall this spring and the drought this summer.

“There’s going to be a major hay shortage in the U.P. and Wisconsin,” Jorasz said.

Though his farm has not yet begun harvesting corn and soybeans due to flooding, Jorasz said he expects the farm’s yield of these crops to be one-third or less of its average. He noted some farmers in the area took their corn down in late July or early August and planted Sudan grass as forage instead; due to the resulting demand for Sudan grass, other farmers planted peas and oats.

Jorasz also said his farm’s grain crops were affected by excess moisture and cold temperatures.

“The grain crops were only one-third to one-half of what they should have been,” he said. received about half an inch of rainfall between the start of July.