We're #1 (and #2, and #3, and...)

When it comes to Michigan agriculture, there's a bumper crop of natural bounty


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Let’s be honest. Michigan is only No. 2 when it comes to agricultural diversity. But that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Our more than 300 commodities are second to California, but we’re only 37 percent of its size (they top us by some 100,000 square miles). And let’s not even mention their much longer growing season. One thing is for sure: Growing, processing, and selling food and agriculture in Michigan is big business. As in $101 billion big. That’s a whole lotta lettuce (and cucumbers, and …). But we’re not just talking fruits and vegetables. We’re talking flowers (think Easter lilies and begonia and petunia baskets) and even low-fat ice cream mix. Here’s a look at some top commercial foods produced in Michigan, when they’re ripe for harvest, and what you might want to do to capture Michigan’s bounty.

 

Tipping The Scales

So where do we rank? We’re usually sitting high atop the tart cherry charts. It tends to be a horse race in other categories. For example, a year of exceptionally good weather in Washington state can push us off the top of blueberry hill (as they did in 2014). According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (a part of the USDA), here’s a slice of where we stand, based on 2014 data.

We’re No. 1 in: Cucumbers (for pickles); tart cherries; squash
No. 2: Asparagus; beans (dry); carrots (fresh market); celery; Niagara grapes (take that, New York)
No. 3: Apples; blueberries
No. 4: Tomatoes (for processing)
No. 5: Plums
No. 8: Peaches; potatoes


More Food for Thought

Considering the economic impact at stake, it should be no surprise that Michigan’s U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Here are a few stats on the economics of agriculture according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

 

By The Numbers

Soybeans/soybean meal exports (2013): $671 million
348.8 million bushels of corn grain (2013): worth $1.4 billion
Dairy farms (2012): contributed $14.7 billion to the state’s economy
Spearmint and peppermint oil (2013): value of $3.3 million
45 million bushels of wheat (2013)
Produced 5.4 million turkeys (2013)
More than 920,000 jobs
Agriculture makes up about 22% of the state's employment
More than 52,000 farms
10 million acres of farmland
More than 300 farmers markets

 

Start Picking

It’s August, and that means the Michigan growing season is in full force. Here’s a quick look at some of what’s fresh.

Apples (August through October)
Asian pears (August through October)
Beans (June through October)
Beets (July through September)
Blueberries (July through October)
Broccoli (September and October)
Cabbage (June through December)
Cantaloupe (late June through September)
Carrots (late July through November)
Celery (June through October)
Cherries (late June through August)
Cucumbers (July and August)
Peaches (early July to mid-September)

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