West central Michigan field crop regional report – May 7, 2015

Planting is advancing rapidly with generally good soil conditions.

White grub larva.
White grub larva.


As of May 7, 2015, we remain approximately seven to 10 days behind normal in development of many perennial and biannual plants, weeds and crops. However, there are exceptions. Growers and crop advisors are advised not to take for granted that everything is behind normal this year. Dry soils warm quickly and some plants and pests are developing at a faster rate than some might expect. Low soil temperatures have risen to the mid- to low 50s this week at Entrican, Ithaca and Mecosta, Michigan. Scouting is still an important part of managing pests and crops. High air temperatures have ranged from the upper 50s on May 5 to the low 80s on May 3. Low air temperatures have dipped into the low to mid-40s several nights this week.

Many of the upland sands in the Montcalm/Mecosta area were becoming very dry until the 0.5 to 1 inch of rain early this week. Many of the tile-drained soils of Gratiot County have been dry enough to allow spring tillage and planting this week and progress continues as rainfall amounts were significantly lighter toward the center of the state. There are still several poorly drained sites, and soils that are very wet will need a significant amount of time to drain and dry out.


Corn planting is going ahead at a rapid pace with 40-50 percent of the crop planted. Some growers have finished planting. Only a few fields of early planted corn have emerged to the spike stage so far.

Soybean planting is underway as well, but at a much slower pace than corn. No emergence has been observed.

Wheat is at Feeke’s stage 5 to 6 in most of the region. Nitrogen (N) applications are still being made in a few areas and second applications of N are forthcoming. It is important to note that applications of growth regulator herbicides will need to be made soon as Feeke’s stage 6 indicates the emergence of the growing point from below the soil surface. After this has occurred, the susceptibility of wheat to injury from these herbicides increases.

Cereal rye cover crops need immediate attention if they have not already been killed. Most have at least one node above ground and several have two to three nodes above ground (12-24 inches in height). Michigan State University Extension recommends controlling rye cover crops in the early stages of growth before it becomes difficult to kill.


Several Japanese beetle white grubs were observed in crop fields this week. Pest development seems to be closer to normal than one might expect given the slow start to spring. This pest has the potential to damage the root systems of many seedling crops. Scout fields before planting to determine the need for seed treatment of a planting insecticide.

No significant numbers of true armyworm or black cutworm moths were captured this week. Both pests are migratory and arrive in the state with weather systems moving from the southern states to the north. There have been a few larvae reported to be feeding on vegetable crop transplants. Identity has not been confirmed, but they may be variegated cutworms, which feed on the upper foliage versus the plant base. Proper pest identification is a very important part of integrated pest management.

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

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