The latest eight- to 14-day weather outlook from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, issued Jan. 1, and for Jan. 9-15 is now “leaning” to normal to below normal temperatures and “leaning” to above normal precipitation.
The ag economy was down in 2023 compared to the record year of 2022 and was the worst performance since 2013. Corn prices were down 30% compared to Jan. 1, 2022; wheat prices down 20% and soybean prices paid to farmers was 14% lower than one year ago. Meanwhile, prices paid for farmland hit all-time record highs, exacerbated by outside investors. Michigan made the list of high prices with three tracts of farmland in Saginaw County, totaling 120 acres, which sold at auction for $856,000.
The latest Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer, released on Jan. 2, showed overall farmer sentiment slightly lower compared to the preceding month. The barometer fell 10 percent from a year earlier. USDA is forecasting a sharp drop in net farm income from 2022’s record-high level. High input costs, including higher interest rates, along with lower crop and/or livestock prices, are the primary sources of concern for farmers.
Southeast Michigan 2024 Crop and Pest Update “Agronomy Day” meeting will be held on Monday, Feb. 5, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Old Mill Museum, Dundee. Topics include: weed management, tar spot, SCN, soil fertility and wheat research updates, corn commodity update and farm finances. Registration is $40, which includes coffee and rolls, lunch and a 2024 MSU Field Crop Weed Control Guide. Two RUP and 3 CEU credits are available. Register at tinyurl.com/3myrah3k. Contact Madelyn Celovsky at [email protected] or call the Jackson County Extension office at 517-788-4292.
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map was improved and updated in November 2023 based on the addition of thousands more local weather stations. The USDA 2023 Plant Hardiness Zone Map is based on average annual minimum winter temperatures and divided into 13 distinct 10 ºF zones, which are further divided into sub-zones of 5ºF. Planting and growing zones are important to understand which plants can survive their area’s climate. Monroe County’s zone hasn’t changed from 6a, but Lake Erie is a huge influence on our weather, including frost and freeze. Other factors affecting a hardiness zone includes a microclimate, including soil, moisture, humidity, heat, wind, and other conditions that affect the viability of individual plants. Planting zones are most helpful to gardeners growing perennial plants since perennials are meant to live beyond just one growing season. Perennials need to be able to survive winter, so it’s important to know how cold it typically gets and whether a particular plant is hardy enough to survive those temperatures. For annual plants, like most vegetables and some flowers, it’s far more important to pay attention to things like the length of the growing season and the typical dates of the first and last average frost dates. For other locations, visit the ARS Plant Hardiness Zone Website at: planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/.
Recycle or reuse Christmas trees can be an easy and fun and environmentally friendly at the same time. Trees could still be of use as a bird feeder or as landscape mulch. Once we get some ice on ponds and small lakes, tie a concrete block to the base of the tree and throw or slide it onto the ice to sink later for a fish habitat. To attract birds to the backyard, they need food, water and cover or shelter. The old Christmas tree can provide excellent shelter for birds, providing protection from wind and predators. It can also serve as a feeding station. Some communities collect cleaned trees to be chipped and used to cover walking paths, or as mulch for trees or shrubs in city parks and arboreta.
— Ned Birkey is an MSU Extension educator emeritus and a regular contributor to The Monroe News.
This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: Recycled Christmas trees can be bird feeders, mulch