Northeast Michigan field crop regional report – May 29, 2014

Memorial Day weekend was no vacation for area producers, but an incredible rebound has been achieved in the field.

Early planted no-till soybeans emerge from the soil in a field near Rogers City, Michigan. Photo credit: James DeDecker, MSU Extension
Early planted no-till soybeans emerge from the soil in a field near Rogers City, Michigan. Photo credit: James DeDecker, MSU Extension

Weather and rainfall

Field conditions have been nearly ideal for the last week, with clear and warm weather allowing growers to stage an impressive comeback from recent delays. Most spent the long holiday weekend preparing fields and planting various crops. Some areas progressed from very little completed two weeks ago to as much as 85 percent planted today, May 29. This rebound is certainly a testament to the patience, flexibility and dedication of area producers.

Favorable weather should persist through next Sunday, June 1, allowing field operations to continue. A frontal system and ripple of low pressure will then move over the state, bringing a widespread threat of showers and thunderstorms early next Monday through Wednesday, June 2-4. This system is expected to linger and draw from moist air in the Gulf of Mexico, delivering 0.5 inches or more of precipitation. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks from NOAA indicate that our region will likely receive near normal precipitation in coming weeks.

Growing degree days (GDD)

The last week finally felt like late spring. Air temperatures reached a new seasonal high of 86 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, May 25. Nighttime lows have been between 42 and 55. GDD accumulations have also improved as a result, totaling 859.9 base 32 F, 434.4 base 41, and 179.5 base 50 since March 1. Most of Northeast Michigan is now only one calendar week behind the 30-year average for this point in the season.

High temperatures are expected to remain in the mid-70s through next Tuesday, June 3, before dipping into the upper 60s for a couple of days as rain moves through. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks from NOAA indicate that our region will likely experience near to slightly above normal temperatures in coming weeks.

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. Crop condition is widely divergent between excellent stands and other fields appearing to stagnate or decline. On poorly drained soils, late planting last fall has been compounded by delays in nitrogen fertilizer application this spring. Likely micronutrient deficiencies are also becoming apparent as yellowing in newer leaves.

Early symptoms of a fungal leaf disease, likely powdery mildew, were observed this week, which is not unusual given our wet spring and the recent increase in temperature. No true armyworm moths have been trapped at our monitoring sites in Presque Isle County, but catch numbers are increasing downstate. Growers should be prepared to scout their fields for this pest as increasing southerly air flows have the potential to extend the flight northward.

Alfalfa in the Northeast is now better than halfway to first cutting. Plants are 9-17 inches tall. We have accumulated approximately 405 base 41 GDDs and are forecast to reach 500 by the end of the month. A relatively large number of acres have been seeded to forage this year, perhaps in response to shifted commodity prices or our slow spring.

New stands are emerging quickly now in nurse crops of oats, wheat and peas. No alfalfa weevil larvae have been observed, but the Michigan State University Alfalfa Weevil Enviro-weather model is predicting that feeding could begin as early as June 3. Cool season forage grasses are 8-24 inches tall, and orchardgrass is heading.

Corn planters covered a lot of ground in the last week. The bulk of this crop has germinated and should emerge in six to 10 days. Soil conditions were mostly good at planting, and herbicide activity has improved with increased temperatures. Statewide, 53 percent of our anticipated corn crop is in the ground. However, I expect that this number is closer to 85 percent in Northeast Michigan as several growers are reporting that corn planting was completed during the first half of this week.

Black cutworm numbers are increasing at monitoring sites in Central Michigan. Scouting should be completed as corn emerges to assess stand and keep an eye on this potential pest.

Soybean planting is occurring almost simultaneously with corn as growers take advantage of tight weather windows. No-till soybeans planted two weeks ago have broken through the soil surface and are beginning to develop unifoliate leaves. However, the majority of soybeans planted recently has just germinated and should emerge in the next week to 10 days. Some sidewall compaction, crusting and clodding were observed in fields planted under wet conditions.

As in corn fields, early season weed control operations were delayed, leaving many acres to be seeded into growing weeds that were subsequently treated post-planting. Soybean planting will continue through this week as some growers finish corn.

Potato growers reported continued progress in planting over the last week. Our Presque Isle County potato variety trial will be planted this Friday, May 30. Recently planted potatoes should emerge in 14 to 28 days.

No dry beans have been planted in Northeast Michigan, but one grower indicated plans to begin late this week if conditions permit.

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

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