Farm maladies stack up

While farmers and agriculture experts say this winter's cold and snow hasn't resulted in much damage and shouldn’t cause a price spike in milk, food or fruit, other concerns are cropping up.
Marie Havenga
Feb 13, 2014

Adam Kantrovich, farm management educator for the Ottawa County Michigan State University Extension service, said the real problems may come with pests, low prices and farmers’ inability to get into the fields early to prepare for the growing season.

“If this type of weather goes longer into the season, it could cause problems for the farmers,” he said.

The only crops that Kantrovich expects to freeze are those in low-lying areas where cold air can drop in and settle.

“There’s a small potential for damage, but it’s going to be very spotty," he said.

Insects could be making spot appearances, too. Because of the early and continuing snow cover, Kantrovich said pests may be insulated and thriving under a blanket of white.

“We usually like to see some really good cold weather hit before the snow blankets the ground,” he said. “That cold weather will kill off insects and keep the population under control. We ended up with essentially a good insulating layer of snow prior to the deep-cold weather killing off some of those insects.”

Kantrovich said another pesky problem is prices.

“My big concern for crop farmers is very low prices compared to what we have seen in the past three, four or five years,” he said. “Right now, the way it looks, some farmers may be producing corn at a loss. That is a different kind of concern versus the yield.”

Hog and cattle prices remain steady, but milk prices are dropping.

“Now we have lower feed costs, so that helps,” Kantrovich said.

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