Northeast Michigan field crop regional report – May 9, 2013

The last week has been ideal for spring fieldwork, but cool, wet weather in the forecast will likely slow progress.


Recent warm, dry weather meant a busy week for growers in northeast Michigan. Field preparation continued with fertilizer application, tillage and pre-plant herbicide applications. Oats and alfalfa are now being seeded. Corn planting is also underway. Progress will likely slow over the next week due to rain events and cool temperatures in the forecast.


No precipitation has been recorded at the Hawks Enviro-weather station since April 30. Soil moisture at 4 inches deep has slowly declined over the last nine days to a current average of 0.184 inches per inch of depth. As a result, heavier soils and low spots in the field have begun to dry out. Our sandy soils, on the other hand, could use a little rain. The next week will likely provide plenty with significant chances in the forecast for Friday, May 10, Saturday, May 11, the night of Monday, May 13, into Tuesday, and Wednesday, May 15. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks from NOAA suggest that this wetter trend will continue with above normal precipitation in coming weeks.

Growing degree days (GDD)

High air temperatures over the last week ranged from 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit with nighttime lows between 36 and 46. Soil temperatures at 4 inches averaged 53 F. GDD accumulations since March 1 total 550.2 base 32 F, 263.9 base 42 and 146.4 base 50. The recent, warm weather has put much of northeast Michigan approximately one calendar week ahead of the 130 base 50 GDD average for May 9, but this likely won’t last.

High temperatures will struggle to break 55 F during the next few days, with a chance for early morning frost Sunday and Monday. Temperatures will only then slowly increase to reach the upper 60s by next Wednesday. The medium range outlooks from NOAA suggest that temperatures will be near to slightly below normal in coming weeks.

Commodity reports

Winter wheat in our region is entering the stem extension phase of growth (Feekes stage 5-6). This is a critical time for weed control decisions as many herbicides labeled for use in winter wheat cannot be applied after Feekes stage 5 without risking crop injury and yield loss. For detailed information on weed control in wheat, see Michigan State University Extension’s 2013 Weed Control Guide for Field Crops.

A few growers have yet to get nitrogen fertilizer on wheat, but the majority of applications are complete. No true armyworm moths have been trapped at our monitoring site in Presque Isle County, and no insect or disease pressure has been observed in the field.

Alfalfa is putting on impressive growth. Most plants are 6 inches tall and have five or six trifoliate leaves. No alfalfa weevil issues have been observed. New stands seeded over the last two weeks are beginning to emerge. Further planting will likely be delayed by weather.

Oats are also beginning to sprout. Rain over the next week should encourage the young seedlings. One grower reported difficulty securing seed. Please contact me if you know of a local source.

A few growers planted corn on high ground over the last seven days, though none has emerged. Forecasted rains will promote germination, but the cooler temperatures we are expecting have the potential to cause seedling injury. Few planting opportunities are anticipated for the next week or more.

One of the first corn fields planted in Presque Isle County, seeded Saturday, May 4, 2013.
Photo credit: James DeDecker, MSU Extension

No potatoes, soybeans or dry beans have been planted in northeast Michigan.

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

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