Farmers Hold Breath on Cold, Rainy Nights

Mason farmer Gary Haynes looks at a pool of water in his cornfield.
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Farmer Gary Haynes looks out at a pool of water in his cornfield and knows there is nothing he can do to save that portion of his crop.

"Those plants are underwater, they have no chance," he said. "Right now this is drowned out."

Fields around the Mason area look more like lakes or bird baths, as wildlife play in the water. It's the result of days of rain and it's making some farmers nervous.

"Agriculture is a huge part of this economy because it's the production, it's the marketing, it's the processing, it's the exports," said Haynes. "A lot of people are waiting for this crop to happen."

Haynes says he's still holding out hope for a normal crop -- after a strong harvest last year -- but confesses the season is off to "a really, really slow start."

Less than 10 percent of Haynes' corn has emerged though Haynes says 100 percent should have sprouted by now. The corn that is visible is yellow because of the cold -- as opposed to a healthier, more desirable dark green color --and only an inch or two high. It should be four times that high, Haynes said.

Rain and frost has shortened the growing season, causing some farmers to turn to low-maturity corns that take a shorter time to grow.

The problem with that, Haynes said, is they often yield less product.

Cold weather is also creeping in, posing a dangerous threat to crops. In a news release, Michigan State University says frost injury can occur to corn and soybeans when temperatures hit the mid-30s. When temperatures hit 28 degrees -- even for just a few hours crops can die.

Don't expect prices at the supermarket to skyrocket, farmers say. Iowa and Illinois control the price in the corn market, said farmer Don Oesterle, and they both planted well this season.

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