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Alger County farms facing impact of a mostly dry summer

The season had around three inches less of rain than normal, affecting the growth of plants and crops
Alger County farms' fall harvest season affected by dry summer weather
Alger County farms' fall harvest season affected by dry summer weather(WLUC)
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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CHATHAM, Mich. (WLUC) - At Rock River Farm in Chatham, a normal summer in terms of rain is around 18 to 18.5 inches for its perennial and annual flowers. This year, though, the area got around three inches less.

Owner Rowan Bunce says the annuals needed more watering, while the perennials responded well to the conditions.

“Perennials seem to weather the dry weather a little bit better,” Bunce explained. “They have deeper root systems, and they don’t require as much water because they have had years to grow in.”

The dry season made a lot of the flowers grow quicker. Luckily for Bunce, he has a diverse group of plants to sell, including dry ones used to make bouquets and wreaths.

As a result of the drought, he says there may be a change as to what is planted and when.

“Things that we wouldn’t plant out as early as normal, we are planting out earlier because it’s so hot and so dry that they can handle it,” Bunce said.

Just up the road is the Michigan State University Research Farm. And while its fall harvest season is moving along, the farm’s manager, Paul Naasz, says the dry summer caused a reduced yield in pasture and hay.

“Our hay crops are low,” said Naasz. “They don’t like the hot and dry weather. So, we’re finding ourselves right now, for the winter feeding period, a little short on hay. We may have to look at purchasing some hay in the spring.”

The produce at the MSU North Farm is well irrigated and the low yields will have little impact on the prices of beef.

“The yields’ reductions that we’re going to see is going to have very little impact on the price to the consumer,” Naasz stated. “It’s all the other stuff going on in the world right now that is keeping those prices up.”

The timing of the limited rain helped both farms during the summer, and they hope to have an extended season for plants and crops next year.

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