Northeast Michigan field crop regional report – May 19, 2016

Planting is in full swing as temperatures are on the rise and dry weather continues.


A high pressure air mass has moved over Michigan, bringing clear skies and warming temperatures. Field conditions have been steadily drying, allowing area farmers to get back into the fields planting. Significant progress is being made and should continue into the weekend as the forecast is expected to remain dry through next Tuesday, May 24. There is a chance for scattered showers and thunderstorms beginning the middle of next week and persisting into the following weekend.


Rain and snow showers that were scattered across our region last week ended Monday, May 16. A total of 0.41 inch of rainfall was recorded at the Michigan State University Hawks Enviro-weather station, but precipitation totaled well over 1 inch in other areas. Total rainfall for the last month in Hawks, Michigan, is now 1.86 inches, nearly 1 inch below the five-year average for this period.

The short-term forecast predicts a 60 percent chance of rain of the middle of next week starting Wednesday, May 25. The 6-10 day outlook from NOAA indicates northeast Michigan will experience slightly above-normal precipitation in the coming week, and the 8-14 day outlook predicts near normal rainfall amounts for the next few weeks.

Growing degree-days (GDD)

Last week’s high air temperatures ranged from 45 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit with nighttime lows between 28 and 39 F. Sunshine that returned Tuesday, May 17, started the gradual increase in daytime high temperatures, which will continue increasing through Tuesday, May 24. Overnight lows have still been at or below freezing, but will improve throughout the weekend, rising into the 40s and 50s.

GDD accumulations have slowed with cold low temperatures, and the northeast is now slightly behind average this spring. GDD accumulations since March 1 total 715 base 32 F, 335.8 base 41 and 132.9 base 50. High temperatures will reach 70 today, May 19, and continue rising over the weekend, reaching 80 on Monday, May 23. Highs are expected to remain in the 70s as rain moves in later next week. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks from NOAA suggest temperatures will remain above average in coming weeks.

Commodity reports

Winter wheat is fully tillered and jointing, ranging in development from Feekes stage 6 to 7. Nitrogen fertilizer has been applied in most fields, with growth beginning to increase as temperatures warm. No true armyworm moths have been trapped at our monitoring site in Presque Isle County, and only one black cutworm moth was recovered today. Growers should consider monitoring wheat, oat and corn fields for cutworm damage if and when weekly catch numbers reach nine moths, but numbers have not shown any signs of increasing thus far. Larvae feeding will not begin until 300 GDD base 50 are reached, which is a few weeks away.

Stripe rust that has been reported in wheat growing regions downstate has slowed in development due to the cold, but will likely increase as temperatures warm. No stripe rust has been reported in our area, but growers should keep a watchful eye for this disease in coming weeks.

Alfalfa is beginning to accelerate growth. Plants are continuing to branch, and growth ranges from 6 to 16 inches in height. Some new seedings have been established this spring, but most will likely occur later in the planting season during the month of August. We are halfway to first cutting in terms of GDD accumulation, which normally coincides with the accumulation of 750 base 41 F GDD.

Oats and barley have been sown in many fields over the last week. Roughly 90 percent of this year’s spring small grains are planted, and 50 percent appear to be emerged. Our Presque Isle County malting barley variety and nitrogen rate trial has just begun to emerge as of today, May 19.

Corn planting has been running wild in our region over the last few days as growers are trying to make up for lost time after the cold, wet weather last week. Planting in our area is estimated to be 50-60 percent completed. Statewide, 34 percent of our anticipated corn crop is in the ground. Our fewer number of corn acres and well-drained soils have helped our area to get ahead of a lot of the state in terms of percentage planted. No corn appears to have emerged as of yesterday, May 18.

Potato planting has also been in full swing this past week. It appears that roughly 40 percent of northeast Michigan’s potato crop is in the ground. No fields have emerged yet. Growers are encouraged to scout early planted potatoes for blackleg this season, as new species of pathogenic bacteria are emerging in the state. MSU Extension has a blackleg bulletin available titled “Tuber Soft Rot, Blackleg and Aerial Stem Rot,” with information on the disease, including what to look for in fields and disease management tactics.

Soybean planting has begun in a few fields this week. Only 5 percent of the anticipated soybean crop appears to be planted and is nowhere near emergence.

No dry beans have been planted in northeast Michigan thus far.

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