Central Michigan field crop update – May 11, 2017

Weather pattern change brings favorable planting conditions, but patience is still needed.


The weather pattern has changed over the past week, favoring farmers getting the 2017 crop planted. Adequate moisture and warming soil temperatures should provide quick emergence of planted crops. Mid-day soil temperature readings are in the mid-60s.

Growing-degree day (GDD) totals at the Freeland Enviroweather station has the region at 272 GDD, which is about 40 GDD ahead of last year and nearly even with the five-year average. Rainfall reported at the Freeland Enviroweather station is 6.72 inches, which is 4.52 inches above last year and 2.8 inches above the five-year average.

MSU Extension advises farmers to be patient and wait for fields to dry out before planting. Good weather is predicted, so patience will pay dividends with uniform emergence and stands.

Commodity reports

Corn planting is well under way and well within the planting window for maximum yields. Apply burndown herbicides as soon as possible. This is especially true for fields that will be no-tilled.

Weed pressure is high in some fields, with chickweed being of most concern. Chickweed is a primary choice for black cutworm moths to lay eggs. Black cutworm moth traps have been yielding consistent weekly catches for the past two weeks. The fields with high chickweed pressure need to be scouted soon after corn emergence for cutworm feeding.

Farmers are planting soybeans earlier and earlier, and this year is no exception. Michigan Soybean Checkoff research project studies show yield increase with early planting dates. A number of fields going to soybeans have documented herbicide-resistant weed problems. Make sure the correct burndown herbicides are used ahead of planting soybeans, as this is one of the best opportunities to control these weeds.

Wheat is in growth stages Feeke’s 6-8. The crop varies widely from excellent to very poor stands. Nitrogen and herbicide applications are wrapping up this week. There are a number of fields that are yellow and in need of warm weather.

Start scouting fields early next week for armyworm feeding. Armyworm moth trap catches have been consistently elevated for the past three weeks, so there is concern about this pest. Some powdery mildew and Septoria have been found at low levels.

Alfalfa harvest is just getting underway. The crop is advancing and most farms with aggressive cutting schedules will begin harvest next week. New seedings are being planted.

Oats are nearly all planted with good emergence on early-planted fields. 

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