Wheat watchers report – June 21, 2021

Farmers are getting ready to harvest wheat around Michigan.

Map of Michigan with counties highlighted in green.
The counties in green represent the counties covered in this report.

For several years before his retirement from full-time wheat support, Michigan State University Extension’s Martin Nagelkirk has worked with a "Wheat Watchers" group to gather perspectives from wheat growers, extension educators, and agribusiness reps from across the state about wheat growth, development, and the progress they see in the field. Wheat Watchers' comments are now being collected by Nagelkirk along with Ricardo Costa and Dennis Pennington and shared bi-weekly on the MSU Extension Wheat webpage.

Below we share what wheat watchers across the state saw in their wheat fields between June 16-20, 2021.

Sanilac County (Deckerville) - Reggie VanSickle (May 21)

Wheat crop is rated an 8-9 and is at Feekes 11 growth stage and harvest will begin in two to three weeks. No more moths found in the trap.

Monroe and Lenawee counties – Ricardo Costa (June 18)

I rate the crop a 9 and at Feekes 11.2 stage. Harvested have started in the area, but the bulk of wheat will be harvested by the first week of July.

Sanilac County (Applegate) - Martin Nagelkirk (June 18)

Wheat was at full flower a week ago, and we are well into grain fill. Harvest maybe start around July 10 for inland areas but a week later along Lake Huron. The dry weather has taken some of the yields, but we still should be on par with last year. Some fields received some relief from the earlier drought conditions, but at least half the acreage still is experiencing a severe water deficit.

Tuscola County (Cass City) – Mike Milligan (June 18)

Most wheat is rated as 7 and at Feekes 11.1 stage. The dry weather could cause small kernels making harvest a little challenging, while yields will be similar to 2019.

Saginaw County (Saint Charles) – Jerry Kovach (June 17)

Wheat is rated a 9 and is at Feekes 10.5 stage. Yields will be similar to last year or a bit lower. In areas with no rain, harvest will begin by the end of the month. We have been seeing very spotty rains changing within a mile or less.

Monroe County (Ida) - Mark Metz (June 16)

The crop is rated as 19. Wheat is at the dry down stage, and expectations are to have higher yields compared to the 2020 crop. Fields will be harvested by June 26 for less intensively managed fields/sand soils and by July 3 for the remaining fields. We didn't pick up any late rains. While head fill is complete, I expect a relatively small seed size. My guess is a 5-10 bushel reduction from what could have been an ideal crop. Disease pressure is very low due to season-long dryness. Barring rain during harvest, grain quality should be superb.

St. Joseph County (Centreville) - Eric Anderson (June 16)

The crop is rated 10 for irrigated and 7 for non-irrigated. Wheat is at Feekes 10.5.4 growth stage. Irrigated wheat looks excellent; the firing of lower leaves is apparent in many rainfed fields.

Wheat that is showing signs of drought stress.
Wheat in a rainfed field under drought stress. That area has received less than 50% of normal rainfall in the past 60 days. Photo by Eric Anderson, MSU Extension.

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