Heat and dry weather causing concern amongst farmers

Posted at 4:33 PM, Jul 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-12 16:33:22-04

SPARTA, Mich. - The dry weather is starting to cause some concern for West Michigan farmers.

It isn't quite to "panic mode" yet, but the lack of rainfall and the heat is becoming a concern.

Some parts of Michigan are now considered to be in a moderate drought, while most of West Michigan is considered "abnormally dry." The last day Grand Rapids saw measurable rainfall was July 1.  Rainfall totals for the area were also below average in June.

Crops are beginning to show signs of strain, especially annuals such as corn and soybeans. Jeff VanderWerff, a local farmer, says that if rains don't come in the next ten days, he could start losing 10 to 20 percent of his top end yield.

"Today it is 83-85 degrees. If it was 10 degrees cooler, on average, this corn could go two more weeks without water. You crank it up to 90, this stuff needs a lot of water right now," explained VanderWerff

Fruit trees are also showing some stress. Amy Irish-Brown from the MSU Extension Office says that some tree fruit is dropping because of a natural shedding to balance the tree.  Things aren't too extreme yet at this point.

Farmers say that the industry has taken steps through genetically enhancing specific crops to deal with less water and higher heat, but we are currently getting close to those limits.

See the latest forecast here.