Northeast Michigan field crop update – June 1, 2017

Planting operations are near completion despite scattered wet weather.

Weather and rainfall

A total of 1.16 inches of rain fell during six wet days at the Michigan State University Hawks Enviroweather station since last Thursday, May 25. A total of 6.44 inches of rain has fallen at Hawks since April 1, which is 1.56 inches above the five-year average for this period. Frequent light precipitation events this spring have delayed planting in some cases but aided establishment of crops already in the ground.

Our next chance for significant precipitation will come this Saturday night through Monday, June 5, with a 70 percent chance of showers and scattered thunderstorms dropping 0.25-0.50 inch of rain. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 6-10 day outlook predicts below normal rainfall for the coming week, while the 8-14 day outlook suggests near normal rainfall amounts for the following week.

Growing degree-days (GDD)

Daytime high temperatures have ranged from 55 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 F during the last seven days, with overnight lows between 41 F and 52 F.

GDD accumulations since March 1 total 1,087 base 32 F, 506 base 41 and 232 base 50. Most of northeast Michigan is three to 10 calendar days behind the 30-year average for GDD accumulation in our region. High temperatures are expected to reach the upper 60s on June 2 and 3.

Daytime temperatures will likely fall into the lower 60s with the onset of an upper air trough and northwesterly flow beginning next Sunday, June 4, and continuing into the first half of next week. The NOAA 6-10 day and 8-14 day outlooks are predicting the continuation of below normal temperatures in coming weeks, but this trend is expected to change by mid-June. Long lead forecasts are suggesting a warmer than normal summer with no clear direction on precipitation.

Commodity reports

Alfalfa development continues to progress slightly behind schedule. GDD accumulation since March 1 totals 506 base 41 F at the Hawks Enviroweather station, 54 GDD behind the five-year average for our region.

Stand heights across the region vary significantly and most are 14-18 inches tall. Based on predictive equations for alfalfa quality (PEAQ) calculations, current relative feed values (RFVs) likely fall between 220 and 240 with neutral-detergent fiber (NDF) at 28-30 percent.

Cool season forage grasses, including bluegrass and orchard grass, are headed. MSU Extension recommends harvesting alfalfa at 680-750 GDDs base 41, depending on the intended storage system (early when ensiling, later for dry hay). Based on this recommendation, first cutting of hay will likely begin in one to two weeks. New alfalfa seedings are establishing nicely, thanks to frequent light rain showers.

Winter wheat in northeast Michigan ranges from early flag leaf to boot stage (Feekes 8-10). Significant cases of powdery mildew and septoria/stagonospora blotch have been observed in our region, especially in fields planted to susceptible varieties. A pre-flower fungicide application may be warranted where leaf disease pressure is significant and likely to colonize the flag leaf, especially if no additional fungicide applications are planned. However, where wheat is closer to heading and a late fungicide application is planned to control scab, growers may choose to protect the flag leaf and developing head with a single application at flowering.

A number of wheat fields that received nitrogen fertilizer early, especially areas with lighter soils prone to nitrogen loss, are showing patchy signs of nitrogen deficiency. A total of four true armyworm moths have been found at our trapping site in Moltke Township, which is well below threshold for this pest.

The most recent USDA report predicts an 85 bushel per acre average wheat yield across the state this year, but acreage is thought to be down 180,000 acres from last year, at only 400,000 acres planted this year.

Spring oats and barley are mostly emerged. Thin stands of oats have been reported in some areas, likely the result of planting older seed with compromised viability. Cereal rye planted last fall has begun to head.

Approximately 90-95 percent of the anticipated corn crop is planted in northeast Michigan. Early planted corn is beginning to emerge across our region and appears to be in good condition. Development ranges between the VE and V1 growth stages. Later planted fields have yet to emerge.

Some clipping damage to emerging seedlings has been observed, likely caused by geese or other birds. However, 42 black cutworm moths have been trapped at our monitoring site as of June 1. MSU Extension expects an above-average risk for cutworm damage in corn and other crops based on these moth counts. Scout corn fields for damaged seedlings. The treatment threshold for black cutworm is 5 percent of seedlings damaged.

Approximately 70-80 percent of expected soybean acres have been planted, and planting continues to progress in our region as the weather permits. Emergence has been slow in some areas due to cool temperatures, with some of the earliest planted fields just beginning to emerge two to three weeks after planting. Post-plant herbicide applications are being made in no-till fields that were not burned-down before planting.

For soybeans yet to be planted, growers can expect a 0.40 bushel per acre reduction in yield potential for each day that planting is delayed. MSU Extension recommends narrowing row spacing, increasing planting populations by 10-20 percent and switching varieties to something that’s 0.5 to 1.0 maturity group earlier than normal for soybeans planted during the first two weeks of June.

Marestail/horseweed and other winter annual weeds are beginning to bolt in fields that have not received herbicide or tillage. Control these weeds as soon as possible, ideally prior to soybean planting, as control becomes very difficult once bolting occurs.

Potato planting is 80-90 percent completed in our region. The MSU/Michigan Potato Industry Commission potato variety trial was planted in Metz Township on May 26, including 54 table stock varieties across several types. MSU Extension is also conducting a potato pop-up fertilizer trial in 2017 using a product called ProTuber from Agro100. No potatoes have emerged in our area.

Dry bean planting has not started, but growers are preparing ground and will likely begin planting next week.

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