Northeast Michigan field crop regional report – May 26, 2016

Ten days of dry weather permitted dramatic progress in the field, but rain is needed.

A late second application of nitrogen fertilizer is made in wheat for research investigating intensive management approaches. Photo: James DeDecker, MSU Extension.
A late second application of nitrogen fertilizer is made in wheat for research investigating intensive management approaches. Photo: James DeDecker, MSU Extension.

Weather and rainfall

Ten days of dry weather across northeast Michigan since May 15 have allowed growers to make dramatic progress with planting and other fieldwork. While this window was timely and welcome, topsoil moisture is now quite low in our region, and rain is needed to aid crop establishment. A subtropical air mass brought moisture from the Gulf of Mexico into Michigan mid-week, contributing to daily chances for showers and thunderstorms late each afternoon through Sunday, May 29. Storms have dispersed before reaching us thus far, but our greatest chances for rain are yet to come Friday and Saturday evenings, May 27-28, with total precipitation of 0.5 to 1 inch predicted. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks from NOAA indicate that precipitation will be near normal in coming weeks.

Growing degree-days (GDD)

Daytime high temperatures have felt quite summer-like over the last seven days, ranging from 71 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime lows, on the other hand, were as cool as 34 F late last week before steadily climbing into the mid-50s. Warm days have hastened GDD accrual recently, with accumulations since March 1 totaling 943 base 32 F, 494 base 41 and 232 base 50. However, northeast Michigan ranges from three calendar days ahead to seven days behind our 30-year average for GDD accumulation, with coastal areas being the furthest behind. Daytime highs will remain in the mid-70s to upper 80s through Memorial Day, May 30. Temperatures will then slowly taper off throughout the next week, falling into the upper 60s by next Friday, June 3. The 8-14 day outlook from NOAA suggests our region will likely experience near normal temperatures in the mid-term.

Commodity reports

Most winter wheat in our region now has one or two nodes visible on the main stem (Feekes stage 6-7). The developing head can be observed by splitting the main stem above the highest node, and is expanding rapidly in most cases due to recent warm days. Crop condition is strong overall with 77 percent of wheat rated as good or excellent statewide. Some cases of powdery mildew and symptoms of rust have been observed, but early fungicide applications are being made to control these diseases. Late herbicide applications will wrap-up in the next week or so as we approach the flag leaf stage (Feekes 8).

Oats and barley have emerged in many fields and are growing rapidly. Only one black cutworm moth has been trapped at our monitoring sites in Presque Isle County over the last week. No true armyworms have been trapped.

Alfalfa in our region is 14 to 19 inches tall and in the late vegetative stage of growth. Neutral detergent fiber concentrations (NDF) should be in the range of 28-31 percent. Orchardgrass and bluegrass are heading. Alfalfa weevil adults have been observed in the field, and the Michigan State University Enviro-weather alfalfa weevil model predicts tip feeding by larvae will begin early next week. Most forage producers in our region should be able to avoid an insecticide application by taking their first cutting before weevil populations reach threshold. Growers are beginning to look at herbicide options for new seedings, and are encouraged to consult the MSU Extension2016 Weed Control Guide for Field Crops.”

Nearly all of northeast Michigan’s 40,000 corn acres have been planted, and early planted fields are emerging. The next week will be a good time for corn growers to assess stands in their fields. This can be accomplished by counting the number of viable plants in several sample areas 1/1,000 of an acre in size (17 feet, 5 inches of row in 30-inch rows), calculating the average of those samples and multiplying that number by 1,000 to determine the per acre count. Stand counts within 10-15 percent of the field’s seeding rate are considered acceptable. While completing a stand count, it is also advisable to take note of any weed, disease or insect issues encountered.

Soybeans are approximately 85 percent planted in our region. Germination and emergence have been slowed by dry, crusted soils in some cases. Forecast rain will be critical for stand establishment. Some may consider rotary hoeing fields to break crusted soils if rain is insufficient over the weekend ahead. Growers are reminded that efforts to control wildlife, especially deer, damage to soybeans should be concentrated in the period between emergence and the V5 growth stage when significant yield loss is most likely.

Rapid progress was made in potato plantings over the last seven days. Growers that started early are 60-70 percent planted while others are waiting to finish with soybeans before moving on to potatoes. Our Presque Isle County potato variety trial was planted Tuesday, May 24, in Metz, Michigan, including 54 russet, red, yellow and white table stock varieties.

No dry beans have been planted in northeast Michigan. 

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