Central Michigan field crops report
Saturated soils will keep farmers out of the fields for the foreseeable future.
The region received rainfall totals well over three inches over the past week. This leaves already wet soils saturated with ponding in many fields. Rivers are at or exceeding flood stage. More rain is predicted through the end of the week leaving farmers wondering just when fields will dry out and planting can begin. Unseasonably cool temperatures have keep soil temperatures in the mid 40’s this week. Farmers are advised to be patient and let fields dry out. You pay for planting mistakes all season long.
The planters are ready to go but the corn and soybean seed remains in the bag. With the current weather forecast, it will be nearly two weeks before field conditions will allow tillage and planting. There is talk of switching to earlier hybrids. The wet soils have not slowed weed growth. Many fields are beginning to green up with weeds. These weeds will be an issue that will need to be addressed with burndown or tillage.
Alfalfa has come out of dormancy in very good shape. Very little winter injury has been reported. Some stands are four to six inches tall. We still may lose some plants in low areas due to water ponding. It will be important to have a good crop this year. Hay supplies may be tight due to the number of fields killed and planted to corn or soybeans this year.
The wheat crop is generally good. Most wheat is in Feekes 2-3 with tillers still forming. Early planted fields look much better than later plantings. Winter annual weeds are growing rapidly and will be a challenge. Wheat growth stage and weed size will need to be considered when selecting an herbicide once fields dry out. Most farmers were able to make nitrogen applications before all the rains. There is a concern that much of the nitrogen may have been lost.
Some oats has been planted on sandier soils. No emergence at this time.
There have been a few fields of sugarbeets planted. There is concern with emergence and how long seed can lay in wet cold soils.
There is a lot of concern about late planting and a narrowing window to achieve good yields. Commodity prices are very good and the fear is they won’t have the bushels too meet the higher costs of production.