Southeast Michigan field crop regional report

What to expect in Southeast Michigan as winter comes to a close and spring arrives next week.

Weather is finally becoming spring-like, although soil temperatures have been consistently around 31 to 32 degrees for most of this year. Our area has had one of the top ten snowiest winters on record. In fact, three of the last four years have ranked in the top ten for snow. Soil moisture levels were very low going into the winter and fortunately most of the winter snow thaw was absorbed into the ground and did not pond or runoff.

Alfalfa may start the spring green-up with air temperatures into the 50’s and even low 60’s for the next few days. It is too early to assess alfalfa stands and any winter heaving effect on stands. Alfalfa and mixed hay prices have been lower than at this time of recent years. The general economy has affected recreational and small farm animal and horse numbers, reducing the demand for hay.

Wheat planted acreage was up last fall because of an early soybean harvest. With some warmer temperatures, stands can be assessed in the next week or so. Farmers will have to make a determination soon if they are going to keep wheat or switch some acreage to corn or soybeans.

Miscellaneous. Fuel and fertilizer price and supply volatility have created a strong demand for information about on-farm bulk storage of these inputs. Most farmers have trucks so hauling fertilizer is no problem. There have been some smaller center pivot irrigation systems going up in the area last fall for the vegetable farmers. The busiest have been the drainage tile contractors who have been working through most of the winter.

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