Northeast Michigan field crop regional report – June 12, 2014

Planting nears completion and rain is expected early next week.

Weather and rainfall

The pronounced lack of rainfall in Northeast Michigan since mid-May has brought many growers close to completing planting operations for this spring. Unplanted acreage will largely be dedicated to dry beans and a few more soybeans. However, soils are now becoming too dry to support consistent crop germination and establishment. Scattered showers Wednesday, June 11, provided some temporary reprieve, but producers will be looking forward to significant precipitation in the forecast for early next week. Showers and thunderstorms are likely next Monday through Thursday, June 16-19. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks from NOAA indicate a high probability of above normal precipitation in coming weeks.

Growing degree days (GDD)

High air temperatures reached 85 degrees Fahrenheit last Saturday, June 7, before declining slightly during the first part of this week, and then briefly bottoming-out in the upper 50s as showers moved through on Wednesday, June 11. It will remain relatively cool until an expected warming trend initiates this Saturday, June 14, returning our region to more seasonal temperatures by early next week.

GDD accumulations since March 1 total 1,274.7 base 32 F, 732.2 base 41, and 367.1 base 50. Much of Northeast Michigan is now on track with the 30-year average for GDD accumulation at this point in the season, with the remainder less than seven calendar days behind. This recovery is evident in the field as planting progress and crop emergence now more closely resemble past years. The 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks from NOAA indicate that our region will likely experience near normal temperatures in coming weeks.

Commodity reports

Winter wheat in Northeast Michigan has the last leaf, known as the flag leaf, visible at the top of the plant. Many stands have reached the boot stage with the developing head beginning to swell within the leaf sheath. Head emergence should begin very soon. Uneven color, likely an indication of nutrient deficiencies, continues to be an issue in some fields. Signs of fungal leaf disease, including Septoria and powdery mildew, are present in a few areas, but pressure is limited due to dry conditions. A few growers have gone ahead with early fungicide applications. Others are waiting until the plants begin to flower. Producers with unidentified wheat issues can contact the Presque Isle County Michigan State University Extension office for information on free diagnostic testing through a partnership between MSU and the Michigan Wheat Program.

A few late herbicide applications are being made. Growers should weigh weed pressure in the field against the potential for crop injury as we move beyond the labeled application window for wheat herbicides and enter the reproductive stage of wheat development.

Alfalfa in our region is 23 to 33 inches tall and entering the early bud stage of growth. Neutral detergent fiber concentrations should be in the range of 35-40 percent. Bromegrass and bluegrass are heading. Harvest could begin at any time, but growers will likely delay cutting until after next week’s forecast rain.

Alfalfa weevil adults have been observed in the field, but tip feeding injury by larvae has yet to accelerate significantly. Most forage producers in our region should be able to avoid an insecticide application by taking their first cutting before weevil populations reach threshold. Growers are beginning to look at herbicide options for new seedings, and are encouraged to consult the 2014 Weed Control Guide for Field Crops.

Nearly all of Northeast Michigan’s 40,000 corn acres have been planted. Much of the crop has emerged and ranges in development from spiking to two true leaves (VE-V2). Emergence thus far appears to be uniform in most fields, but the young plants and seed yet to germinate will require additional moisture soon.

Now is a good time for corn growers to assess stands in their fields. This can be accomplished by counting the number of viable plants in several sample areas 0.001 of an acre in size (17 feet, 5 inches of row in 30-inch rows), calculating the average of those samples and multiplying that number by 1,000 to determine the per acre count. Stand counts within 10-15 percent of the field’s seeding rate are considered acceptable. While completing a stand count, it is also advisable to take note of any weed, disease or insect issues encountered.

Soybeans are approximately 90 percent planted in our region. Our local trial comparing gypsum applied at 0.5 tons per acre with control plots was planted last Wednesday, June 4. Many earlier planted stands have emerged and range in development from just cracking through to fully unrolled unifoliate leaves (VE-VC). Emergence has been inconsistent in some areas due to crusting and inadequate moisture.

Growers should scout their fields to check emergence, stand count and weed pressure beginning seven days after planting. Early herbicide applications are being made to no-till fields and other areas where preemergent weed control was limited. For soybean acres yet to be planted, growers should consider switching to a maturity group 0.5 or 1.0 unit shorter than normal.

Potato growers in Northeast Michigan have nearly completed their planting operations. Roughly 2,000 acres are dedicated to potato production in our region, much of that concentrated in Presque Isle County. I have not seen any shoots emerging yet in production fields, but volunteer potatoes are showing-up in other crops like corn. According to Michigan State University Extension weed control specialist Christy Sprague, “controlling volunteer potatoes is critical for the management of potato pests and diseases, such as late blight”. Glyphosate most often performs poorly at this task, but other herbicide products can provide as much as 80 percent control.

Dry bean planting has been underway for at least a week in our region. Growers have been placing seed slightly deeper than usual to reach moist soil. Our local dry bean variety trial was planted this Monday, June 9, including 18 varieties in four classes. Dark red kidney beans are traditionally grown in this part of the state, but acreage of other bean classes such as black and navy beans has increased in recent years. Black beans offer the advantage of direct cutting with a combine at harvest, versus the pulling and windrowing that is necessary for larger, more delicate beans.

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

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