Central Michigan field crop update – July 27, 2017

Crop conditions are improving, but there is still a long time before harvest.


It seems wrong to say the 1.5-inches of rain over the last couple of days is much needed after the double-digit rains and flooding central Michigan experienced just four weeks ago. Nonetheless, the rain was welcomed and needed. Corn and soybeans have recovered very well considering some acres were under water for up to 48 hours.

Warmer temperatures are still needed because the area is 63 growing degree-days (GDD) behind last year’s total on this date of 1,551 GDD, according to the Michigan State University Freeland Enviroweather station. The Freeland station recorded 18.62 inches of rain since April 1, which is 11.4 inches more than 2016 totals and 7.55 inches above the five-year average of 11.07 inches. 

While crop conditions are improving, it will be difficult to overcome the impact of the flooded conditions earlier in the season.

Commodity reports

The corn crop is making good progress with many fields in the pollination stage. A number of farmers were able to make the last herbicide and nitrogen applications. Many farmers are reporting some very good fields and some very poor fields. Good drainage is going to be the key this year in determining how fields will yield.

Overall, most farmers are expecting an average to below average crop. One farmer commented, “We just don’t know what happened to the nitrogen.”

Western bean cutworm trap catches were in the triple digits for the week of July 17. This week’s totals are much lower with double and even single digit numbers in some traps.

Soybeans are the surprise crop after areas of field’s spent multiple days under water. Most are flowering and setting pods. Many have recovered and appear to be on track for average yields. A number of farmers replanted some of the drowned out areas and at this point it seems to be the right decision.

Herbicide applications are wrapping up. Herbicide resistant weeds are evident across much of the area.

Wheat harvest has wrapped up with most farmers reporting disappointing yields. Test weights were lower than normal but on the positive side, there were little to no quality issues. This year’s wheat crop was a little late planted and the winter was pretty much open with very little snow cover. Stands this spring were variable with many farmers wondering about tearing them up and planting soybeans.

This year’s crop looked good from the road, but lacked the good harvest head counts for high yields.

Dry beans were impacted most with the flooding. There were plenty of prevent plant acres, a number of replanted fields and some fields that farmers replanted just the drowned out areas. Most farmers are hoping for a long, warm fall for this crop to mature.

Harvest of third cutting alfalfa is underway. This crop may be the one that benefited most from all the rain this summer. Most farmers are reporting excellent yields and quality. A number of farmers are replanting some to the drowned out areas of spring seedings.

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