Winter wheat update – May 1, 2013

Wheat is starting to recover from damaging rains, and warm temperatures should provide rapid growth.

Wheat across Michigan has had a tough time dealing with the excessive rains during April. According to notes shared by Michigan Wheat Watchers, an informal group of state-wide observers, the crop continues to show damage from excessive rain, particularly in the middle latitudes of the state.

According to the USDA’s Crop Progress Report, only 8 percent of Michigan’s crop is rated as excellent and 47 percent as good. The Watchers group tended to be somewhat more optimistic, but did grade the crop more severely than the previous two weeks due to increase evidence of flood damage.

Currently, the crop’s development is lagging, but with temperatures on the rise, the jointing stage will likely be reached next week in the southern tier of counties. There is concern that the wheat plants, under warm temperatures and abundant soil moisture, will exhibit rapid growth and sensitive tissue. This could make the crop more susceptible to chemical burn and injury from liquid nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides. Therefore, growers are encouraged to consider applying inputs separately rather than in a tank-mix to minimize the chance of injury. No significant insect pests have been found to date, but foliar fungal diseases may become notable in susceptible varieties during the next two weeks.

Though most fertilizer nitrogen has yet to be applied, this should not limit yield levels in most cases as long as the crop receives the nitrogen by the time wheat reaches the second node stage (growth stage 7). Michigan State University Extension recommends using 28 percent UAN through streamer nozzles where possible.

The following table gives the input provided by the Michigan Wheat Watchers. It represents their observations between April 25 and 29.

Michigan wheat watcher report, April 29, 2013



Growth stage

Crop condition

Winter loss%



Tom Smith
Moline Co-op

4 - 5

10% good
90% excellent


Looks really green except where there was water standing; starting to get some weed pressure, mostly chickweed, no armyworm moths.


Carl Sparks
Sparks Cedarlee Farms


50% good,
50% excellent


Soil conditions wet but wheat not under water in most places.


Gerard Reaume
Agri Bus consultants


11% poor, 5% fair, 83% excellent



A lot of rain-damaged wheat. Too soon to tell if the damage is lasting. Low areas along rivers and creeks are taking the brunt of the damage.

Gratiot (Southern)

Phil Tuggle,
MI Ag Comm.

2 to 3

15% poor 50% fair 35% good


Many areas of water damage with some nitrogen loss, but 50% or more of the crop has yet to receive any nitrogen. Needs to stop raining, soils are completely saturated.


Tim Wilke
Co-op Elevator Co.


75% good,
25% fair


Wet conditions adding stress to wheat especially in low areas of fields.


Steve Wagner
Agri Bus consultants





1 armyworm moth caught; uniform development; some chickweed and annual blue grass. Too wet to be in fields for last 3 weeks.


Paul Gross
MSU Extension




20%poor,15% Fair, 60 good, 5 Excellent

Excessive rains / flooding over the past 2 weeks; stand loss in some areas; better able to assess next week. A few fields will be worked-up. No insects to date.


George Wilcox
Crop Prod Services




More rain on Sunday causing loss in low areas, soils saturated; delayed herbicide applications; plenty of winter annuals.


Scott Wahl


75% Good, 25% Excellent


Some excessive rain in the past week has started hurting some fields; development staying on track. Weed pressure is increasing, no insects pests yet.


Mitchell Murray
MI Ag Commodities

Late Greenup/Tillering

20% fair80% good


Low areas still wet; expecting more N appl. that still need it mid- to late week; some areas got hurt by ponding water.

Presque Isle

James DeDecker
MSU Extension

green-up to Feekes 3

5% poor,
35% fair,
60% good


1.31 inches of precipitation since 4/14; one to two weeks behind; some small weeds visible; no disease or other insects. Significant deer damage in many fields.



Bill Guilford
Guilford-Beagle Farm

2 to 3


5-10% poor
15% fair
75% good


More small winter kill spots than I’ve had in 20 years. No armyworm moths.


Chris Schmidt
Schmidt Farms of Auburn


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

5 -8%,most evident on lighter soils

Warmer temps this week will decide which fields in the Saginaw Valley will survive until harvest and which will be planted to corn this spring.

Saginaw Midland


Dennis Varner
Harvey’s Ag Solutions


85% good


Wheat is a lot better this week.


Martin Nagelkirk MSU Extension


5% poor
30% fair,
65% good


Another large dose of rain received 29th; no significant disease or insects.

St. Clair

Mark Naplin
Eastern Michigan

3 -4

20% fair,
80% good .

.5% or less

Wheat is looking good considering all the rain. Lots of topdressing needs to be done. Standing water has taken its toll on wheat in lower areas. No insect pests

St. Joseph

Jon Zirkle
MSU Extension

3 - 5

30% fair,
70% good


Generally good looking crop. Development is finally underway.


Fred Springborn
MSU Extension


30% fair,
70% good

Some damage has occurred, generally less than 5% as an average. No armyworm adults caught


Brandon Hotchkin

4 - 5



Good color; two armyworm moths in past 7 days. Broadleaf weeds are popping up, especially chick weed.

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