ROMEO, MI (AP)
Some farmers are welcoming this winter's above-average snowfall in Michigan because it could raise local water levels and help crops.
Dale Mohler, an agricultural forecaster for Accuweather, told The Detroit News that the snow could cause more wetness in the spring, which in turn could delay planting. Overall, he said, that should help throughout the growing season.
"Snow will melt and eventually it will help boost the soil moisture," Mohler said.
Ken Nye, the Michigan Farm Bureau's fruit and vegetable expert, said subzero temperatures could have damaged some wine grapes, but for the most part any losses should be minimal.
"The growers, the only thing they're complaining about is there is so much snow in the orchards they can't get out and do their trimming," Nye said. "They are going to have to scramble so they don't fall behind."
Snowfall is above average this winter in many parts of the state, including the southern Lower Peninsula. The Detroit area had a monthly record 39.1 inches of snow in January. The previous monthly record of 38.4 inches was set in February 1908.
For Mark Falker, a Romeo dairy farmer with 50 cows, the bitterly cold weather in Michigan in January and this month has been challenging. When the temperature drops too low, he gets up every two hours throughout the night to pour hot water on the barn's pipes so they don't burst.
"When the wind blows and it gets cold enough, it can be a real problem," Falker said.
Even though the cold means more work, Falker is willing to embrace the accompanying snow that has covered the 180 acres he uses to grow the feed and bedding for the cows.
"You can tell with the ponds in the neighborhood that we've been lax on water. So this should help get that waterline back up," Falker said. "Also, with all the snow, the frost isn't going as deep. That's good for the hay fields and the wheat fields that are in the ground now."