First winter wheat update - April 16, 2013

Our new collaboration with volunteer wheat observers reports wheat is showing signs of life and reasonable levels of winter survival, but its development is starting slowly this season.

Volunteer wheat observers, called the Michigan Wheat Watchers, expressed guarded optimism for the 2013 wheat crop.  The group is made-up of individuals from across the state willing to share general observations of the crop’s developments and challenges on a bimonthly basis through Michigan State University Extension. Thank you to these collaborators.

The Wheat Watchers individual comments are provided in the table below.  The watchers recognize that it is still too early to estimate winter/spring-time crop loss, but most feel it will be well below 5 percent. The single biggest concern is the excessive rainfall received last week within the more central latitudes of the state (see the accompanying figure).  These areas have experienced serious runoff and ponding.  The ponded area tended to lie within the areas that were injured by ice-sheeting last winter, so the crop damage in these spots has likely been compounded.  Until the wheat crowns exhibit new root growth, it will be difficult to assess the extent of damage.

Rainfall map

Most watchers feel the crop is delayed in their area by several days.  Several of the members expressed concern regarding the potential loss of fertilizer nitrogen applied prior to heavy rains.  While there are no standard definitions of a poor, fair, good or excellent crop, the group expressed their estimate of the crops condition based on this early stage.  This assessment will tend to shift as the crop exhibits more significant growth and development.

 Michigan wheat watcher report, April 14, 2013



Growth stage

Crop condition

Winter loss%



Tom Smith

Moline Co-op 

Green Up

5% good;

 95 % excellent

very little

mostly a great looking crop; very little winter kill, still some ponding- same place as there was before; have to wait to see if this damages wheat


Carl Sparks

Sparks Cedarlee Farms

Full grn-up

50% good



Wheat development delayed, but crops looks good


Gerard Reaume

Agri Bus consultants

mid green-up

.5% fair

90% good


excessive water damage is responsible for field losses

Gratiot (Southern)

Phil Tuggle,

MI Ag Comm.


Green up

20% poor

80 % fair


excessive rain; some fert N loss; perhaps a week behind; low lying areas  gone from  winter kill or standing water. only about 20% of N applied..


Tim Wilke

Co-op Elevator Co.

Early greenup

80% good,

20% fair


Cool conditions slowing wheat development


Steve Wagner

Agri Bus consultants

green up mostly Feekes 3

10% poor, 40 good, 20 fair, 30% excellent

< 1%,

no frost heaving, minimal loss to ponding; too soon to see what the rains of 4/9-4/11 did, 1/3 acres have urea application


Paul Gross

MSU Extension



15% fair

70% good

15% excellent


think we came through winter ok but the rains over the last week is going to result in some stand loss.- know better when things warm up.; assume N loss


George Wilcox

Crop Prod Services

mid green-up

25% fair,

75% good


Very slow green-up, cold conditions; concerned about N loss due to top-dressing prior to long dry spell.; planting too shallow last fall for soil moister condition



g.s. 3-4 to

 full green up

75% Good, 25% Excellent


 Came out of winter dormancy with no issues, growth stage is right where it should be; rains have saturated fields, but not to the point of hurting the crop.



Ned Birkey

Spartan Ag Consult

Feekes stage 3

generally fair


 Not enough growth/ tillering last fall that we like to see.  Many fields are still “behind”.


Mitchell Murray

MI Ag Commodities

early green-up

15% fair, 85% good


Excessive rains are creating some ponding. 

Some nitrogen has been lost, but there are many fields that still need application.

Presque Isle

James DeDecker

MSU Extension

Dormant to early green-up

  5% poor,

 25% fair,

 70% good

5%, but hard to tell

Some N applied two weeks ago with significant N loss likely; little fertilizer applied recently due to excessive precipitation; Scattered snow cover and ponding



Bill Guilford

Guildford Farm

mid green-up

85% good,

10% fair,

5% poor

< 5%

Water damage caused some kill spots. Probably at least a week behind; possibly some N loss; hoping for a good clover catch.


Chris Schmidt

Schmidt Fms of Auburn

mid green-up

10% poor  30% fair  50% good  10% excel

1 - 5%

Significant rainfall has caused significant ponding; topdressing 30% complete; need warmer temps before determining which fields will make it .

Saginaw Midland


Dennis Varner

Harvey’s Ag Solutions

Early Greenup

50% Fair,

50% Good,

too early

There will be some and corn will go in on damaged wheat acres. Too much ice followed by too much rain. Low areas of fields gone or going.


Martin Nagelkirk MSU Extension

mid green-up

20% fair,

 80% good


Excessive rain adding stress to crop; some fert N loss; a week behind in development

St. Clair

Mark Naplin

Eastern Michigan

mid-full green up

30% fair,

70% good


Last week’s rain put a lot of wheat underwater,  turning brown; lot of topdressing was done before the rain; overall wheat looks to be coming pretty well

St. Joseph

Jon Zirkle

MSU Extension

Tliler development

90% good

< 0.5%

Generally good looking crop;  development is finally underway

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