Northeast Michigan field crop regional report – June 26, 2014

Crop condition is improving with rain and there are few major pest problems.

Wheat flowers and completes pollination in about five days. Photo credit: James DeDecker, MSU Extension
Wheat flowers and completes pollination in about five days. Photo credit: James DeDecker, MSU Extension

Weather and rainfall

Recent rains have improved soil moisture conditions, and crops are responding positively, for the most part. Approximately 1.46 inches of precipitation fell at the Michigan State University Hawks Enviro-weather station between Sunday, June 15, and Wednesday, June 18. The majority of rain came Tuesday and Wednesday in fairly quick downpours. The second half of last week was mostly dry and slightly cool, followed by a system of light showers that moved through the region mid-day this Monday, June 23. Our next significant chance for precipitation will begin this Sunday, June 29, with intermittent showers and thunderstorms likely through the first four days of next week. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks from NOAA suggest that precipitation levels will be near to slightly above normal in coming weeks.

Growing degree days (GDD)

The first day of summer was last Saturday, June 21. High air temperatures were in the mid-70s early this week. GDD accumulations since March 1 total 1,688.0 base 32 degrees Fahrenheit, 1,019.5 base 41 F, and 535.0 base 50 F. Significantly warmer weather is needed to hasten crop development and recover our deficit, in terms of heat units. Fortunately, temperatures in the mid-80s are forecast for late this week through early next, accompanying the predicted rainfall. In addition, the 6-10 and 8- 14 day outlooks from NOAA indicate that our region will experience above normal temperatures over the next few weeks. Warmer conditions should accelerate crop growth.

Commodity reports

Much of the winter wheat in our region is flowering, and some has nearly completed pollination (Feekes 10.5.2-10.5.3). Pollination normally requires four to five days. Fungicide applications have continued between recent weather events. However, the Penn State Fusarium Head Blight Prediction Center suggests that the risk of scab is low in our area, except along the lakeshore near Thunder Bay.  Michigan State University Extension recommends that flowering is the best time to apply fungicides for scab prevention, but disease risk should be weighed against the cost of control measures. Fungal leaf disease pressure has also been rather low, but recent moisture and predicted warmer temperatures could change that. The earliest maturing varieties in our Presque Isle County malting barley trial are very close to heading. 

In alfalfa, a number of forage producers in the Northeast have begun to harvest their first cutting of hay, but the majority of acres remain standing due to weather delays. Some down forage was exposed to the elements over the last seven days. Much of this material will be preserved as higher moisture haylage. Uncut alfalfa is in mid-bloom and 35 to 45 inches tall. Neutral detergent fiber concentrations are likely in the range of 44 to 50 percent and overall forage quality will now begin to decline significantly as plants enter the reproductive stage of growth. Alfalfa weevil pressure remains very low, and growers should still be able to avoid an insecticide application by harvesting in a timely manner. More pressure may be seen in second cutting growth. An insecticide application is warranted if feeding damage is apparent on 50 percent of the regrowth or more than six weevils are found per square foot. New spring seedings have two to four trifoliate leaves. Daisies are blooming in pastures.   

Corn in our region ranges in development from the two-leaf to six-leaf stage (V2-V6). Root growth, nutrient uptake and leaf color are generally improving thanks to recent rain and slightly improved soil temperatures. Those fields that are not greening-up are beginning to show signs of possible nutrient deficiencies. Leaves striped with interveinal chlorosis point to the low concentrations of sulfur, zinc and manganese available in our sandy, alkaline soils. Many growers are applying herbicide, mostly glyphosate, some tank-mixed with atrazine or metolachlor. No black cutworm damage has been reported in this part of the state, but Central Michigan educators are observing some significant, but isolated, losses.   

Soybean development remains highly variable across the region and within individual fields. The earliest beans have three fully emerged trifoliate leaves while other plants just sprouted. Most of this variation appears to be related to shifting spring soil conditions. Some seedling diseases have been observed in the field, preventing emergence or terminating newly emerged plants. Growers noticing emergence or stand establishment issues should scout for signs of pre or post emergent damping off and root rot. What appears to be alfalfa weevil was collected from one soybean field after leaf feeding was noted. Alfalfa weevil is a very occasional pest of soybean. Broadleaf weeds are two to five inches tall in many fields and herbicides are being applied. Secondary and micronutrient fertilizers are also going on in some cases. Deer damage is apparent in smaller fields near wooded areas.

The majority of potatoes have sprouted and are beginning the vegetative stage of growth. Some producers have already made their first pass post-planting to cultivate and inject fertilizer. The first generation of Colorado potato beetle larvae is in its first instar on volunteer and home garden potato plants. The beetles have not yet made their way into this year’s commercial crop. Potato leafhoppers blew into the area with some of our recent storm systems. As forage cutting continues, they will begin to migrate into potato fields. Hilling will commence in the next couple of weeks.   

Dry bean planting is complete and crop development ranges from crook stage to two trifoliate leaves. Recent precipitation has encouraged emergence in areas not planted to moisture or crusted after planting. Crop condition is generally good, but a potential case of herbicide injury was reported today. A great deal of the crop was planted, and herbicide applied, under dry conditions. When rain came last week, plants that were emerging may have been hit with an especially concentrated dose of herbicide activated by the sudden moisture. Trapping for Western bean cutworm will begin in the next couple of weeks.

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

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