North Central Michigan field crop regional report – May 15, 2014

The field crop planting window narrows in North Central Michigan.


The rains continue to fall, delaying planting for at least another week. The region has received over 1.5 inches of rain over the past week. Fields are saturated with standing water in low laying areas. Temperatures are not expected to get into the 70s until the week of May 19, lessening the chances of fields drying rapidly. Growing degree day (GDD) accumulation from March 1 is 42 GDDS behind 2013 based on information from the Michigan State University Linwood Enviro-weather station.

This is the type of spring that causes tremendous stress in the farming community. Early planting is one of the keys for good yields. A farm’s bottom line is often based on good yields and as planting is delayed, the economic impact can be felt for years to come. It will be important to be patient and let fields dry out before planting and not creating conditions that will limit yield potential. These conditions include compaction, crusting and poor emergence. Patience will be a key virtue this spring.

Commodity reports

There is very little corn planted in the region. A few farmers were able to get a field or two planted over the Mother’s Day weekend, May 10-11, on coarse-textured and well-drained fields. The big question many farmers are debating is the changing of corn hybrid maturity. To help answer this question, farmers should refer to the Michigan State University Extension article written by Marilyn Thelen, “Web-based corn growing degree day tool helps with planting decisions.”

The wheat crop in the region is really a tale of planting dates. The early planted wheat has made it through winter and is in pretty good shape, while the later planted fields are patchy and thin. The crop is in growth stage Feekes 5-6 and is nearly past the growth stage when 2,4-D can be safely applied. There is still some nitrogen that needs to be applied and all of the herbicides. Wheat should be scouted for insects, weeds and foliar diseases. Farmers should consider fungicide applications as the conditions are ideal for wheat diseases.

There was a narrow planting window in late April that allowed most of the oats and barley to be planted. Most of these fields have emerged and look very good.

Alfalfa in the region fared much better than in other parts of the state in terms of winter survival. The crop is 6-8 inches tall and growing rapidly. There have been no insect problems reported at this time. Scout fields for alfalfa weevil as the weather warms up. It appears first cutting will be ready to cut while farmers are trying to wrap up corn planting.

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

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