Wheat watchers week of May 20, 2024

See how the wheat crop is progressing across the state this week.

A sectioned-off map of Michigan showing the wheat watcher zones.
The Michigan wheat watcher zones. Map source: https://gisgeography.com/michigan-county-map/

This report will come out weekly until most of the state hits flower and then will switch to bi-weekly until most of the state has reached harvest. This report is only possible because of our agribusiness and farmers who participate as wheat watchers. If you are interested in being a wheat watcher, especially if you see your area isn’t represented, please reach out to MSU Extension Field Crops Educator Jenna Falor at falorjen@msu.edu. 

Overall, this week reporters are seeing wheat stands in good condition ranging in Feekes growth stage 9-10.5.3 across the state. Also, stripe rust is beginning to pop up across the state. If you are curious if stripe rust has been reported in your county, you can check the stripe rust map on the Crop Protection Network.  

Southwest region 

We had two wheat watchers reporting in from southwest region: one from St. Joseph County near Centreville, Michigan, and one from Allegan County near Wayland, Michigan. In Allegan County, wheat is reported to be at Feekes 10.5, which means heading is complete. Wheat is even further along in St. Joseph County, with the watcher reporting Feekes 10.5.3, and flowering is complete at the base of head, across the area. The watcher in St. Joseph County reports that head scab fungicide applications occurred late last week across the area and that thankfully since less rain was received than forecasted ground rigs were able to get in easily across the area. The watcher in Allegan County says head scab fungicide passes are occurring, and that they haven’t seen any stripe rust but they are monitoring it. They are also watching storm systems. 

If you are interested in receiving southwest Michigan crop updates, MSU Extension field crops educator Nicolle Ritchie puts out a weekly update through MSU Extension Field Crops News.  

Closeup of wheat.
Photo by Nicolle Ritchie, MSU Extension.
Closeup of wheat.
Photo by Jason Stegink

Southeast region 

We had one wheat watcher reporting from Jackson County. They are reporting Feekes 10.5.1-10.5.4. They are also reporting that some fungicide and insecticide are being applied. The reporter is hearing some reports of cereal leaf beetle and windgrass coming up where wheat canopy was slow to close. There have been some spotty rains this past week leaving some fields dry. 

Closeup of wheat.
Photo by Madelyn Celvosky, MSU Extension.

East central (Thumb) region 

We had three wheat watchers reporting from the Thumb: One from Huron County near Elkton, Michigan, one from Tuscola County near Cass City, Michigan, and one who scouted across areas of Huron, Tuscola and Sanilac this past week. Wheat has reached Feekes 9-10.5 across most of the area, which means that most wheat has flag leaf emerged and some have completed heading. The next field pass for many will be a head scab application at flower. Stripe rust has been found in Huron, Tuscola and Sanilac counties and reported to Marty Chilvers, while the watcher in Elkton hasn’t seen any strip rust locally yet. The stripe rust seems to be in pockets this year. The watcher in Elkton is reporting that powdery mildew is progressing up the plants if no fungicide has been applied yet.

There is some cereal leaf beetle being found in Sanilac and Tuscola counties as well, but the pressure has been pretty low so far. There have been some higher counts in true armyworm moth traps this past week, so make sure to scout your fields. 

Orange spots on wheat blade.
Photo by Jenna Falor, MSU Extension.
Closeup of wheat.
Photo by Jeff Krohn.

Central region 

We had four wheat watchers reporting in from the central region, one in Ingham County near Mason, Michigan, one near Middleton, Michigan, in Gratiot County, one in Isabella County near Mount Pleasant, Michigan, and one in Saginaw County near Richville, Michigan. Wheat is reported at Feekes 9-10.5.3 across the region. The watcher near Mason is reporting seeing Feekes 10.3-10.5.3, which means the head is between halfway emerged and complete flowering. The watcher in Gratiot County is reporting Feekes 10.5-10.5.1 (heads emerged to beginning flowering). The watcher in Isabella County is reporting Feekes 9-10 (flag leaf to some beginning to head). The watcher in Saginaw County reporting Feekes 9-10.5.

The watcher in Richville is watching for stripe rust as they had another heavy rain event this past weekend. The watcher in Isabella County is reporting that head scab fungicide applications will be starting soon. Some in that area are considering adding something in for stripe rust. This watcher is also reporting that she has not seen high moth counts for armyworm or cutworm in the area. They say the rain has been spotty but more intense in some of the central Michigan area that could make some field a little wet for sprayers. The watcher near Mason is reporting that they are awaiting head scab fungicide application. They are also seeing cereal leaf beetle populations growing rapidly (some larvae, many adults). Even with the high winds and recent storms, there has been very little lodging seen. They are seeing stripe rust across parts of this area.  

If you are interested in viewing the central Michigan crop updates, MSU Extension field crops educator Monica Jean puts out a weekly, live update through the MSU Extension Field Crops Facebook page.  

West central region 

We had one wheat watcher reporting in from Mason County with the wheat being at Feekes 9. They are reporting that spring fertilization is done and that some chose not to apply any herbicides this spring. They will be spraying flag leaf fungicides as soon as wind speeds allow. They have had good weather for the past 15-20 days.  

North region 

We had no wheat watchers reporting from the Northern area this week. 

Notes from Dennis Pennington, MSU wheat systems specialist

Pennington is reporting that stripe rust is running rampant across areas of the state (refer to the stripe rust map on the Crop Protection Network). If your wheat is at or near flowering, a fungicide for head scab control will provide dual protection from head scab and stripe rust. If fields have stripe rust on flag leaves and the heads have not emerged yet, you may want to consider a fungicide now to control the stripe rust. He also reports that he has been seeing increased cereal leaf beetle pressure, with a couple fields that may have been at threshold, so make sure you are scouting! 


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