78
      Friday
      84 / 60
      Saturday
      85 / 62
      Sunday
      87 / 64

      Upper Peninsula drought?

      For Bahrman's Farm, the recent heavy snowfall is a great thing and a welcome change for the upcoming growing season. The lack of snow over the last couple of years brought a drought, which made farming even more difficult.

      "Last year was unusual. Farmers could plant early, but they really take a gamble because you never know when the weather is going to turn 'normal' again," said Jim Isleib, Crop Production Educator at the Michigan State University Extension in Wetmore.

      Farmers play the guessing game with Mother Nature during planting season, which usually starts around May in the Upper Peninsula.

      Having a blanket of snow up to a few weeks before planting is considered a good thing for U.P. agriculture because of the much needed moisture it brings to the soil. But during the last few years, the U.P. has seen a less-than-average amount of snow that has melted too early, leaving too much time for the crops to get dried out.

      Farmer Dan Bahrman said, "The wells around this area were getting a little bit dry, because we weren't having that replenishment the last couple of years. We weren't getting the snowfall we needed, so we're hoping to see that recover a little bit as well as surface moisture, and get more surface moisture in the soil, because last year the crops were not as well as they should have been."

      Farmer Bahrman grew up farming, saying his father and grandfather taught him much of what he knows.

      The Bahrman's grow potatoes and hay on their farm, and they also raise beef. Bahrman's potato crop and beef did exceptionally well last year. However, the hay crop did not.

      The Bahrman's main crop, hay, is in short supply. They have just enough to feed their own animals. Last year the hay crop took a big hit because of the lack of moisture in the soil due to an unnaturally short winter.

      And it's not just Bahrman's farm. There is a big shortage of hay in the entire U.P.

      According to Bahrman, hay will be sold at top dollar for a while until the crop has time to recover. And with the National Sequester looming, the supply and demand for these crops may be in limbo for a little while.

      As far as drought in the future, Isleib and Bahrman both agree that the weather is getting more unpredictable each year. All U.P. farmers can do now is be ready for anything.