Northeast Michigan field crop regional report – June 18, 2015

Crop conditions are improving with increased temperatures.

Weather and rainfall

Soils across northeast Michigan are finally drying some after nearly a month of above average precipitation. Most recently, 0.51 inches of rain fell at the Michigan State University Hawks Enviro-weather station Sunday, June 14. The next week is expected to bring a number of clear days, but not before the remnants of tropical storm Bill move through this Saturday evening, June 20, into Sunday with precipitation totals up to 0.5 inches predicted. Our next chance for precipitation will come Saturday, June 27. The six- to 10- and eight- to 14-day outlooks from NOAA suggest precipitation levels will be slightly above normal in coming weeks.

Growing degree days (GDD)

The first day of summer is Sunday, June 21. High air temperatures have remained in the 70s for the last seven days with nighttime lows between 46 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit. GDD accumulations since March 1 total 1,617 base 32, 975 base 41 and 514 base 50. Temperatures are expected to be in the lower 70s through the next week. However, the six- to 10- and eight- to 14-day outlooks from NOAA indicate our region will experience below normal temperatures in the mid-term.

Commodity reports

Winter wheat in our region is mostly headed, and some have begun flowering (Feekes 10.3-10.5.1). The Penn State Fusarium Head Blight Prediction Center (FHBPC) suggests the risk of head blight (scab) is medium to high in our area, with the greatest disease pressure forecast for Emmet, Charlevoix, Antrim and Otsego counties to the west, as well as eastern portions of Presque Isle, Alpena, Alcona and Iosco counties nearest the shore of Lake Huron. According to the FHBPC, “Fusarium head blight is caused by the fungus Fusarium graminearum. The fungus attacks the grain directly and can result in serious yield losses. Losses may also be compounded by mycotoxins that are produced by the fungus in diseased grain. Symptoms of disease include tan or brown-colored lesions that may include single spikelets or large sections of the wheat head.”

Early flower is the ideal time for fungicide applications to protect the crop from scab, and growers with more mature stands have already started spraying. Conversely, fungal leaf disease pressure has been rather low, but recent moisture and predicted warmer temperatures could change that.

Regarding alfalfa, a number of forage producers in the northeast have begun to harvest their first cutting of hay. Some down forage was exposed to rain Sunday, June 14. Dry weather forecast for most of next week will encourage many more producers to begin making hay. Uncut alfalfa is in mid-bloom and 35-45 inches tall. Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) concentrations are likely in the 44-50 percent range, and overall forage quality will now begin to decline significantly as plants enter the reproductive stage of growth.

Alfalfa weevil pressure reached economic thresholds in some areas prior to first cutting, particularly on sandy soils and hillsides. New spring seedings have two to four trifoliate leaves. Daisies are blooming in pastures.

Corn in our region ranges in development from the two-leaf to six-leaf stage (V2-V6). Root growth, nutrient uptake and leaf color are generally improving due to increased soil temperatures. Those fields that are not greening-up are beginning to show signs of possible nutrient deficiencies. Leaves striped with interveinal chlorosis point to the low concentrations of sulfur, zinc and manganese available in our sandy, alkaline soils. Many growers have completed herbicide applications, mostly glyphosate, some tank-mixed with atrazine or other chemistries. Fields with poor, early season weed control are beginning to show signs of competitive stress.

Soybean development remains highly variable across the region. The earliest beans have two or three fully emerged trifoliate leaves while other plants have just sprouted. Most of this variation appears to be related to shifting spring conditions and a range of planting dates. Some fields were planted into excessively wet soils and others were exposed to standing water during emergence. Michigan State University Extension recommends growers noticing emergence or stand establishment issues should scout for signs of the cause. Seedling diseases, such as pre- or post-emergent damping off and root rot, may be to blame in some cases. Replanting an entire field is not an option this late in the season, and research has shown that filling in a thin stand will not increase overall yield because the newly planted soybeans compete with those already established.

Broadleaf weeds are 2-5 inches tall in many fields and herbicides are being applied. Secondary and micronutrient fertilizers are also going on in some cases. Deer damage is apparent in smaller fields near wooded areas.

The majority of potatoes have sprouted and are beginning the vegetative stage of growth. Some producers have already made their first pass post-planting to cultivate and inject fertilizer. The first generation of Colorado potato beetle larvae is in its first instar on volunteer and home garden potato plants. The beetles have not yet made their way into this year’s commercial crop. Potato leafhoppers blew into the area with some of our recent storm systems. As forage cutting continues, they will begin to migrate into potato fields. Hilling will commence in the next couple of weeks.

Dry bean planting is nearly complete and crop development ranges from crook stage to two trifoliate leaves. Recent precipitation has prevented some growers from finishing up with planting as early as they would have liked. Crop condition is generally good and herbicide applications will commence shortly. Trapping for western bean cutworms will also begin in the next couple of weeks.

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

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