Michigan Agriculture

Things to Consider While Cultivating Your Michigan Farm or Ranch

Michigan farming is not as consistent or predictable as farming is in other states.

Without vast grassland, corn growing is a challenge due to the irregular topography, drainage, climatic changes, heterogeneous soils, and location. Farming is particularly tough in the regions of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Even still, a variety of crops and dairy products can be cultivated in Michigan.

Geography and Topography

Michigan farming can generally divide into two regions: the Lower Peninsula and the rest of the state. The portion of the Lower Peninsula in the southern part of Michigan has the largest amount of land for farming. Here the greatest volume of crops, cattle and animal products grow every year. The terrain for farming in the rest of the state is very difficult, but the Lower Peninsula is perfect for growing and cultivating farmland.

The Michigan terrain also varies in different parts of the state due to variations in soil types, topography, climate, and market conditions & availability. So for these reasons, farmers in Michigan adopt specific types of farming suitable to the climate area in the region where they live.

Nearly 80% of farming happens in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula. This is primarily due to the desirable climate and soil. Here you’ll find wind turbines and extensive dairy operations, along with high-quality soil. The soil specifically, has increased the value of land per acre, as it is the only land in the entire state suitable for farming.

The farming regions in Michigan can generally be identified based on products sold there.

Things to grow in Michigan

For example, the central and southern parts of the Lower Peninsula (and some parts sprinkled throughout the rest of the state) are only for dairy farming. The Saginaw Valley and many parts of the southern and central counties of the southern Lower Peninsula are for cash grain including wheat and corn along with soy, and beans.

The counties along Lake Michigan in the Lower Peninsula are perfect for growing fruits. Further, the three metropolitan counties of Detroit – Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne, are popular for their greenhouses and nurseries. Certain small areas in Cass County are also famous for their specialization in pigs and hogs. Further, Ottawa County is great for poultry and poultry products, and in Roscommon County, for field seeds.

Types of farming

The types of farms you’ll find in various parts of Michigan will depend heavily on the selection of livestock and crop enterprises available on a particular site. A farm can be categorized on the basis of four factors including physical factors, economic factors, personal factors, and biodiversity factors.

Physical factors help in determining the type of products you can effectively produce in a particular region. This also factors in the consistency of the yield in that region, and the availability of component products and tools to achieve a consistent yield.

Economic factors can help in determining the type of products that are most profitable depending on the region. This also entails how much those products sell for, and how long those products will keep on store shelves.

Additional Factors to Consider

Personal factors can help in determining the preferences of the person farming in a specific area of the region. It can help in making a decision about renting or buying a piece of land. Depending on the farm’s location, the land value, the required investment, laws, and regulations, you’ll want to do your homework.

You may not want to go all-in prior to doing some in-depth research. Some farmers prefer tougher terrains and harder workdays if there is a greater financial benefit. While others prefer a smaller operation that allows them to care for their family, and make an honest living without much scalability.

Biodiverse factors include the presence of diseases in plants and animals, animal pests, insects and pests in that region. Some regions experience far more problems with getting consistent yields than other regions. It’s best to do thorough research on this before you invest heavily. Great land with a great yield, that also yields 50% waste due to a pest problem may not be worth the time. Alternatively, you might find technology that solves a pest problem affordably, making the land and yield far more valuable. This is case by case, but there are many resources available online to help you gather information.

One of the most important factors to consider when farming in Michigan is your insurance. Read the fine print on what’s covered, as different regions offer different coverages. Also, consider the premiums as these can vary greatly depending on the scale of your operation. Ultimately, you should consider all the aspects discussed in this write-up before engulfing on a farm operation in Michigan.