Southeast Michigan field crop update for July 7, 2011

Rain in next week’s forecast is welcomed, as some corn fields are struggling and have rolled up leaves due to the heat.

Weather has turned hot and dry with scattered and sometimes violent summer storms and even some golf ball size hail. After receiving above normal precipitation from January through May, June saw very little rain and early July is the same. Rain forecast for most of next week will be welcomed, but no hail, please.

Alfalfa second cutting is coming off with very good quality and quantity. The second cutting got off to a good start because of the late May rains. Now the third cutting will suffer. Potato leafhoppers are present and must be monitored carefully so that any spraying does not delay harvest. Some very late first cutting is extremely mature and full of weeds.

Corn is highly variable, with corn that is chest high and other corn that is struggling below the knee. Some fields have rolled up leaves due to the heat. Most fields have canopied and have had weed control and nitrogen applied. European corn borer trap numbers are very low and corn earworm traps were just put up on Tuesday (July 5). Western bean cutworm traps have caught very few moths to date. The lightning bugs have been out for about two weeks, so the corn rootworms are also out. With all the late planted corn, these fields will be attractive to corn borers. Some fields not planted were going to be put into cover crops instead of being allowed to grow up into weeds.

Oats have headed out and will be turning shortly in this heat. Test weights and yields will likely be lower than normal. I have not seen any barley or sunflowers this year in Monroe, Wayne, Washtenaw and Lenawee counties.

Soybeans are struggling to grow in the clay soils. Although advanced fields are just flowering, plants are very short. Some fields have been planted throughout June as farmers could get into those fields with a dry seedbed. Giant ragweed and marestail are the dominant weed species present. Weed control timing will end up helping or hurting yields, depending upon the timing. Bean leaf beetles and Japanese beetles are feeding on the leaves. I have not seen any soybean aphids. Farmers are still interested in foliar fertilizer and we will be doing this in Washtenaw County later today (July 7) and in Monroe County early Friday morning.

Wheat harvest started on Tuesday (July 5) with good yields, good test weights and low moisture, although it is too early to report reliable yield numbers. Some wheat had lodged in the storms of the past few weeks, but most fields are standing well for combining. Most farmers will be starting to combine before the end of the week. With rain forecast for next week, I expect farmers to get a jump on combining, baling straw and trying to sneak in some double crop soybeans.

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