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Michigan specialty crop ratings slide

National ratings for nearly 20 commodities in Michigan dropped in the latest ag census.

“The rankings are really important and they also only tell part of the story.”

Michigan State University’s Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics assistant professor Molly Sears focuses on specialty crop economics and tells Brownfield several factors are at play.

“We’re not seeing an overall change in Michigan’s rankings, but asparagus production in general is struggling a little bit,” she says. “We can see a decline in asparagus acres.”

She says increasing labor costs since 2022 is having a significant impact on several crops.

“We know that the way that the wage rate has been increasing, that this is going to continue to put strain and we have lots of specialty crop producers that are very worried about being able to functionally hire labor into the future,” she says.

Sears says the most noticeable drop has been in national vegetable acreage rankings with squash, pumpkins, carrots, and potatoes all moving lower.

She says some trends, like the decline in potato rankings, fluctuate with planting rotations in other states.  Potato acres in 2022 increased for Michigan but increased even more in Colorado.

Michigan acreage rankings also declined for cultivated blueberries and plums but increased for pears.

Michigan field crop production rankings declined for dry edible beans, oats, and winter wheat but increased for alfalfa haylage in 2022.

In terms of production values, the state did increase in rankings for bedding plants, cut Christmas trees, indoor foliage plants, greenhouse tomatoes, nursery stock, and bulbs/croms/tubers.  Declines were reported in potted flowering plants, propagative material, vegetable transplants, cut flowers, and mushrooms.

AUDIO: Molly Sears, Michgian State University

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