West Central Michigan field crop regional report – May 22, 2014

A brief window for planting progress was followed by more delays this week in West Central Michigan.


Rain and cool temperatures slowed the drying out of soils throughout West Central Michigan this week. By Monday, May 19, most producers on well-drained soils were able to begin planting again until more rain arrived Tuesday morning. Heavy rains early Wednesday morning, May 21, in Montcalm and southern Gratiot counties will now prevent most of those producers from getting back in the fields until later this week. Very little work has been accomplished on the heavy loam soils, especially those without improved drainage, as they have remained too wet to work since the very beginning of the season. At Entrican, Michigan, air temperatures have ranged from the mid-40s to low 70s for highs with nighttime lows in the low 30s to low 40s for much of the week. Low soil temperatures are in the mid-40s at a 2-inch depth.


Corn planting is continuing as weather permits with 15-20 percent of the crop in the Montcalm County area and far less than that near Newaygo and Muskegon, Michigan. There are a few early planted fields that are at V1. Many of the plants in these fields are yellow and showing signs of stress from the cool, wet conditions experienced. This is not a fertilizer nutrient deficiency in most cases, but rather the plants response to the cool, wet conditions.

Black cutworm moth capture is low this week at two per trap. This continues to be something to monitor given the large flight reported in Indiana and the large number of weedy fields present that would be attractive to egglaying. However, it does not appear that a major outbreak is eminent. Growers should begin scouting emerged crops for this and other early season pests.

Cereal rye cover crops will need to be controlled soon as many are reaching Feekes growth stage 7 to 9 (flag leaves emerging) and will become increasingly difficult to control.

Oats that were planted earlier this spring have emerged and stands are generally good. There are still those who planned to plant oats this spring and have not done so yet. Emerged stands should be monitored for weed growth.

Alfalfa continues to grow well with most fields at 12-14 inches. Alfalfa weevil feeding is present in some locations at low levels.

Wheat is at Feekes 7 in most fields. Disease pressure is low in the fields I observed this week. Annual weed pressure and nitrogen (N) application are the biggest concerns at this time as it is getting far past the optimal time to apply N and weed growth is increasing in both winter spring annuals. As a reminder, the use of growth regulator herbicides such as 2,4-D is not recommended at these advanced stages due to potential crop injury.

Potato planting made limited progress this week and has fallen further behind the normal pace and schedule. I have not observed any emergence of the crop or of volunteers.

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

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