Southwest Michigan field crop regional report – May 2, 2013

In warmer parts of the southwest region, plant growth is increasing and corn and soybean planting is getting underway this week.


The weather story in southwest region is sort of a tale of two areas. In the southeastern portion of the region, thunderstorm rains that fell on April 30 tracked to the north and east. This has allowed growers in southern Cass, St. Joseph and most of Branch County to get underway with planting operations. However, most areas of Van Buren, Allegan, Kalamazoo, Barry and Calhoun counties received significant rainfall (up to 2 inches in some areas) and are still on the sidelines when it comes to field work. Heavier soils remain wet in most locations. However, the return of the warmth has been enjoyed by all.

The NOAA 6-10 and 8-14 day outlook suggests that the region may be turning cooler with temperatures dipping below the normal range during these time frames. The precipitation outlook looks for normal precipitation along the Lake Michigan coast, with more chances for rain towards the I-69 corridor and east. Daytime soil temperatures have been soaring with the warm air temperatures and warm nights.

Corn and soybeans

Corn and soybean planting is getting underway as of this week. Winter annual weeds picked up rapid growth, and many fall tilled fields now have weeds growing. Now that better conditions are in the near-term forecast, be careful about selecting fields that are dry enough to traffic without causing compaction.

Weed control

Consider using preemergent weed control programs to help take the pressure off of glyphosate-resistance development in corn and soybeans. Be prepared to get these applied quickly, as the warmer and moist soils are conducive to rapid germination and emergence. An expected return to cooler temperatures may slow this down a little. Review your Michigan State University Extension bulletin “2012 Weed Control Guide in Field and Forage Crops” (E434) for specific recommendations and crop and weed height restrictions. The guide is available online at


Wheat has greened up and growing where conditions have been warmer. Early planted wheat is at Feeke’s Stage 4-5. No armyworms have been caught in the traps I have checked. We did have some nickel- to quarter-sized hail from the storms across Van Buren County on April 30. Continue to monitor stands for winter annual and now annual weeds. I did see some ragweed emerging in fields this week.


Growth is picking up rapidly across the region. I have not seen issues with alfalfa weevils. We are still about two weeks behind normal in growth. Stands are looking much better in response to the warmth.

Other Michigan State University Extension field crop regional reports from this week:

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