Central Michigan field crop update – May 23, 2019

Farmers took advantage of the small planting window.

Wheat field
Photo by Paul Gross, MSU Extension


The weather cleared just enough last week for mid-Michigan farmers to get back into the fields and make good planting progress. The region missed some of the weather systems that dropped considerable amounts of rain in southern Michigan. Field conditions are still considered near field capacity for water. This is another year where well tiled fields are paying dividends. One farmer reported they would have liked to keep going but ran out of tiled fields. The region still lags behind in terms of growing degree days (GDD). According the Michigan State University Freeland Enviroweather station, current GDD accumulation is 288 GDDs compared to the six-year average of 532 GDDs.

Commodity reports

Farmers made good progress planting corn on well-drained fields and coarse textured soils last week. Some farmers are reporting being 60-70% planted. The calendar is forcing farmers to consider switching to earlier maturities, soybeans or the prevent plant option with crop insurance. Planting conditions are still challenging

Soybean planting is just starting and good progress was made this week. Some areas of the region are reporting 40% planted. There is some emergence on early planted fields.

The dry week gave farmers an opportunity to get some nitrogen and herbicide on the wheat crop. As the crop advances, the poor stands become more evident. This crop is one of the poorer we have seen in years, but we still need to manage this crop in the most economical way getting it to harvest. Visit the Penn State Head Scab Predictor Tool and consider a fungicide application to protect the yield and quality of the crop in the fields. Strip rust is another disease that can cause considerable yield loss but there are no reports of this disease at this time.

Oats and barley planting finished with the early planted fields emerging. The cool, wet weather is ideal for these cool season cereal grains.

A large number of alfalfa fields have experienced a considerable amount winterkill this spring and the loss is more evident as the crop matures. Alfalfa weevil feeding was found in central Michigan this week. With all the attention on getting corn and soybeans planted, don’t fall asleep on this pest. Cutting is the best management option, so monitor alfalfa maturity and optimize your cutting schedule. Visit the MSU Extension Forages website for more information on assessing your stands and options for supplemental forages

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