Northeast Michigan field crop regional report – April 28, 2016

Extended winter finally gives way to normal spring weather in the northeast region.

Overwintered cover crops, like the cereal rye pictured here, should be terminated at least two weeks before corn or soybean planting. Photo by James DeDecker, MSU Extension.
Overwintered cover crops, like the cereal rye pictured here, should be terminated at least two weeks before corn or soybean planting. Photo by James DeDecker, MSU Extension.

Weather and rainfall

It seemed winter would never end when snow continued to fall through mid-April across Michigan’s northeast Lower Peninsula. Yet since then, our spring weather has been near to average. Well-drained soils dried for the first time with warmer temperatures around April 16, allowing a limited amount of field work, primarily fertilizer and burndown herbicide applications. Approximately 0.30 inch of rain April 21 and another 0.50 inch April 25-26 have since re-wet the ground and temporarily halted progress in the field.

Mostly clear skies and increasing temperatures forecast for the next week should allow growers to return to their spring work in earnest. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks from NOAA indicate that this warm, dry weather will persist in the medium term, hopefully permitting timely planting of spring grains, forage and potatoes.

Growing degree-days (GDD)

High air temperatures over the last two weeks have ranged from 38 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit with nighttime lows between 29 and 44 F. GDD accumulations since March 1 total 390.6 base 32, 143.7 base 42 and 56.6 base 50. This puts us almost perfectly on track with the 56.75 base 50 GDD five-year average (excluding 2012 as an outlier) for this point in the season, and well-ahead of last year.

Presque Isle County Michigan State University Extension will begin participating in the National Phenology Network, using a unique lilac clone to track GDD accumulation and the advance of spring each year beginning in 2017. The plants arrived at our Rogers City, Michigan, office recently and will be in the ground soon, but not useful for data collection until next spring.

Commodity reports

Winter wheat is greening-up and ranges in development from Feekes stage 2 to 4. Winter injury appears to be minimal across the region, despite sporadic freeze events and some standing water in April. However, deer, hungry after a cold and snowy winter, have congregated to feed in some fields. Planting was timelier last fall due to favorable weather and early soybean harvest. New root growth has been consistently observed and is the best indicator of wheat’s condition early on, while tillering remains limited in many stands. A few growers have rushed to apply nitrogen fertilizer over the last two weeks, but wet soils and cool air temperatures have delayed the majority of intended applications, particularly those that will include tank-mixed herbicide.

MSU Extension began true armyworm and black cutworm monitoring this week. Armyworm numbers have been up this spring in Indiana, but it is yet to be seen if weather patterns will push the moth flight north into Michigan during our critical period.

Alfalfa and forage grasses have broken dormancy in northeast Michigan and are showing their first few new leaves. Winter injury also appears to be minimal in these crops. Topdressing of fertilizer and seeding of new forage stands will likely occur in coming weeks.

No small grains, corn, potatoes or soybeans have been planted in northeast Michigan. However, warmer weather will encourage burndown herbicide applications and other seedbed preparation activities over the next seven days. Overwintered cover crops should be terminated soon, at least two weeks before corn or soybean planting. Growers are also encouraged to consider their options for effective early horseweed control, including 2,4-D ester (1 pint per acre) or Sharpen (1 fluid ounce per acre) with glyphosate prior to planting soybeans. Statewide, approximately 3 percent of the anticipated corn crop is in the ground. 

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