Michigan’s Thumb area field crop regional report – May 15, 2014

Wet weather and poor field conditions continues to hamper planting progress.


Rain and wet fields continue to hamper planting in the region. Huron County farmers reported some planting activity into Mother’s Day weekend, May 10-11. Little field work was done in the southern portion of the area over the last week. Several locations received over 2 inches of rain; however, less than 1 inch was reported in Huron County with more showers expected into Friday morning, May 16. To check for rainfall near your location go to the Michigan State University Enviro-weather website for detailed information.

Growing degree days (GDD) are averaging three to seven days behind the 30-year normal and with the possibility of cooler than normal summer temperatures, farmers should consider reducing corn maturities as they start their planting.

Commodity reports

Sugarbeet planting is approximately 60 percent complete and farmers have decisions to make as the insurance date of May 20 approaches. The percent completion ranges from 20 percent in the southern Thumb are to 100 percent in the northern Thumb are. Steve Poindexter, MSU senior Extension sugarbeet educator, estimates that for every week there is a delay in planting, a reduction of 1 ton will come off the top yields.

There were reports of farmers starting tillage for corn planting in Huron County last week with limited planting occurring. In the region, corn planting is estimated to be 5 percent complete.

No soybean planting has been reported in the region.

Wheat is reported to be Feekes stage 6 in the central Thumb region and stage 5 closer towards Lake Huron. Fields that were dry enough received nitrogen and possibly a herbicide application for weed control. Farmers that have not applied a herbicide application should closely monitor growth stage recommendations since many should not be applied past stage 5. For more detailed information on weed control options, farmers should consult the “2014 Weed Control Guide.”

Alfalfa fields showed good growth over the last week due to higher temperatures. Once alfalfa reaches a height of 6 inches or more, growers can better assess stands by counting stems per squared feet (see table). The University of Wisconsin has a very good bulletin that provides producers a two-step process to evaluate stands: “Alfalfa stand assessment: Is this stand good enough to keep?

Stand density recommendations

Stand density (stems/sq. ft.)


> 55

Stem density not limiting yield


Some yield reduction expected

< 39

Consider replacing stand

See also: Web-based corn growing degree day tool helps with planting decisions

Other Michigan State University Extension field crop regional reports from this week:

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