Central Michigan field crop update – May 4, 2017

The growing season is off to a cold, wet start, but better conditions are coming.

The start of the 2017 growing season is being slowed by above-average rainfall. According to the Michigan State University Enviroweather station in Freeland, as of March 1 the rainfall total is 8.83 inches, which is 2.93 inches above the 2016 total and 3.75 inches above the five-year average for this location. On the flip side, the base 50 growing degree-day (GDD) total for the same period is 155 GDD, which is 63 GDD above 2016 and 20 GDD above the five-year average.

The region is expected to remain cool and wet into the week of May 8. The combination of excessive moisture and warm temperatures favors weed growth while farmers are not able to get burndown herbicides applied. Growers are reminded to be patient and wait until field conditions dry out before resuming field operations.

Commodity reports

There are a few acres of corn that have been planted across the region, mostly to make sure everything is working. Farmers were able to plant on well-drained fields but were not eager to plant too many acres with forecasts for more rain. The calendar still favors timely planting and good yields. Getting burndown herbicides down is one of the challenges corn growers face at this point.

The wheat crop varies widely depending on planting date and soil type. With the above-average GDD, the crop is advancing in growth stage even though the crop is short in height. Early planted fields look very good and are in Feeke’s growth stage 6-7. Later planted fields have variable stands and seem to be impacted by the excessive rains. Many wheat growers were able to get herbicides and nitrogen applications made in a narrow window late last week.

MSU Extension encourages wheat growers to scout fields for disease and insect pressures. Conditions are very favorable for a number of diseases, many of which are infecting other wheat growing areas of the country. Special attention should be paid to armyworm populations. Armyworm moth traps have been consistently catching moths in high numbers.

Wheat growers interested in learning more about this year’s wheat crop are invited to attend a May 24 Wheat Field Day at the Hauck Seed Farm near Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. MSU Extension wheat specialists and industry representatives will be on-hand for this program. Two RUP credits are available for this program.

Alfalfa came through winter as good as any crop this year. The crop is 10-12 inches tall and growing rapidly. With the current growth rate, first cutting will be ready to harvest before corn is planted. There are no problems reported at this time.

Oat and barley planting has started where field conditions allowed.

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