Winter flooding vs. spring planting
COLDWATER, MI -- 2018 may be remembered as the year of the winter flooding and continuous wet and cold conditions. In the lower tiers of counties in Michigan alone was record-breaking flooding of the St. Joseph and Kalamazoo Rivers in the month of February. The continuous wet weather stayed around through March and even April is seeing some additional precipitation. The Midwest saw a lot of the same weather patterns. So, how does that affect the crop farmers?
According to District Conservationist Marcus Reynolds for the Branch County (MI) Soil Conservation District, it won’t be good for either the farmers who are losing or the waterways that are gaining.
“There is a lot of topsoil that is being washed away,” Reynolds said. “The eroded soil is then being moved into water bodies.”
This will possibly be detrimental to lakes, rivers, and ponds as they may not be able handle the nutrient load and it will eventually be a problem for the fish and other water life. These compounds are one of the causes for algae bloom in the waterways. Because of the lack of movement in the water, the algae collects and grows, becoming a problem for native plants that the fish use for refuge and food. The plants do not grow because of the density of the algae and its interfering with the sunshine.
The cold temperatures are an issue as well as the frost line will not disappear until the ground has warmed. This causes additional runoff of the quality soil into the bodies of water. That said, the drainage ditches may be full now but later in the season, it is not likely to still be there.
“Rain on the land would be more likely to refill the aquifers,” Reynolds said. “There are definitely not as many benefits as there would seem to be.”
With the fields still showing standing water, there will be some delay to getting those machines in without needing assistance to get out. Some farmers are trying to get those springtime projects accomplished but the weather is certainly not working in their favor. Irrigation companies are doing their best to complete units without interference of vehicles getting stuck. Early plantings may not be an option this year. Some are wondering how well the production year will go and how late it is going to be before they can plant.
The three month seasonal outlook from March through May is calling for continued “above-normal precipitation totals state- and region-wide” according to Professor Jeff Andresen who serves as the state climatologist for Michigan.