North Central Michigan field crop regional report – May 29, 2014

Slowing down can increase grain yield.


The region has been mostly dry for the past week, allowing fields to dry and planting to progress at a near record pace. There was a narrow front that passed through on Tuesday, May 27, that kept some farmers out of the fields for about two days. One small area reported receiving about 5 inches of rain during that event. Farmers are still being very selective where they plant while they wait for fields to dry out. Most are planting in less than ideal conditions, but the calendar says get the crop planted.

Commodity reports

Corn planting is progressing at a rapid pace with nearly 75 percent of the crop planted. In their haste to get this crop planted, farmers are reminded of an older planting speed study that still has relevance today. The 1993 study by Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Agronomy Department, “Planting Speed Effects on Stand Establishment and Grain Yield of Corn,” conducted on-farm strip trials on 22 farms in Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. The treatments consisted of planting speeds of 4, 5, 6 and 7 mph and were replicated three times on each farm. Grain yields at 6 and 7 mph were significantly less at three bushels per acre than those at 4 and 5 mph across all the planters in the study. The seeding rates increased as well as the plant spacing variability worsened at the higher speeds as well.

The planters have improved dramatically over the past few years and are engineered to plant at higher speeds. Farmers are encouraged not to exceed the speed your planters were designed to plant at. Doing so could reduce yields. In a year when we are planting later than normal, farmers need to take all the extra precautions to not lower yield potential because of planting errors.

Farmers are advised to scout fields that have not had good burn down herbicide applications. The fields that have weeds are candidates for black cutworm infestations. There were some significant moth catches in traps this week. This does not mean automatic infestations, but the potential is there.

Farmers are planting soybeans while trying to wrap up corn planting. The soybean crop is about 40 percent planted. There are some corn acres that will be planted to soybeans because of the wet weather.

The wheat crop is in Feekes 7-8 with no major disease pressure at this time. There was a lot of the herbicide and nitrogen applied in the past week. A number of these fields have some leaf burn, but seem to be growing out this. It appears that the crop will be heading next week, so if you are planning a fungicide application, make the necessary arrangement because the window for timely application will be narrow for the greatest economic benefit.

Alfalfa harvest will begin early next week. There are a few farmers that have opened up some fields. The crop is nearing optimal growth stage for harvest. No reported alfalfa weevil pressure at this time. Yields are expected to be average.

The oat and barley crops are planted and most have emerged. The crops look good at this time.

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

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