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Warm Days Help Field Crops Catch Up on Heat Units

Published: Friday, July 12, 2019

The following is from the Michigan Field Office of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service for the week ending July 7.

A break in the cool and wet temperatures provided some relief as fields dried out and growing degree days accumulated in many areas. However, there was still much to contend with during another week of a complicated season.

There were 4.8 days suitable for fieldwork.

The majority of the regions across the state experienced hot temperatures and less precipitation compared to previous weeks. However, there were reports of heavy rains during the middle and end of the week, most of which were located in the central counties of the Lower Peninsula.

Most corn fields finished emergence, however, some spotters noted that some fields were showing signs of stress as a result of high amounts of precipitation during the planting season.

Poor root structure in corn, delayed fertilization, weed and disease control are reflected in condition ratings of only 46 percent good to excellent.

Since 1986, the only worse ratings for this time of year were recorded in 1988, 2012 and 2002, all exceptional drought years. And 2004, a very wet year where the highest number of prevented planting claims were made.

Soybean progress continued to be below the five-year planting average, however, the drier weather helped most farmers finish up planting, and the hot temperatures helped more fields emerge.

Farmers were able to plant a significant amount of dry beans as a result of the favorable weather. Sugarbeet conditions in the Thumb continued to improve, and farmers were able to pick up the pace on cutting and bailing hay. Some farmers were able to start second cuts in a few fields.

Other activities included herbicide and fungicide applications.


Early plantings of celery were being harvested in the West Central region. Cole crops were being planted and harvested in the Southeastern region. Squash, zucchini and cucumber harvest was ongoing in the Southwestern region.

Early sweet corn in the area was tasseling as reports of increased disease pressure have become more prevalent.

Symptoms of early blight (Alternaria solani) were developing in some Southwestern tomato, pepper and potato fields. Late blight (Phytophthora infestans) has not been detected in Michigan to date.

Weather has been favorable for disease in most major growing areas. Growers are advised to be vigilant in scouting efforts as the season progresses.


Hot weather, accompanied by rain filled storms, continued to push fruit development. Unfortunately it also provided excellent conditions for disease and insect development.

Fruit growers continued to try and keep cover sprays on crops to protect against insects, disease and fungal pathogens.

Tart cherry harvest was expected to begin in the Southwest around July 6. Fruit was red and ripe. Cherry leaf spot has been troublesome all season.

Apples in the Southwest were growing rapidly. Hand thinning was underway. Fire blight infections were low.

In the Northwest, apples continued to size well. The window for chemical thinning closed. Growers were assessing their crop and hand thinning where necessary.

Blueberries in the Southwest were sizing well. Early varieties were coloring and some harvest occurred on these varieties last weekend.

Topsoil moisture was rated very short, 0 percent; short, 5 percent; adequate, 65 percent; surplus, 30 percent.

Subsoil moisture was rated very short, 0 percent; short, 2 percent; adequate, 64 percent; surplus, 34 percent.

The crop progress schedule (last week, previous week, 2018 and 5-year average) showed: corn, emerged 95, 84, 99, 100; soybeans, planted 95, 81, 100, 100; soybeans, emerged 79, 67, 95, 99; winter wheat, headed 97, 88, 100, 100; winter wheat, mature 20, 3, 66, 55; barley, emerged 90, 81, 95, NA; barley, headed 27, 8, 69, NA; dry edible beans, planted 86, 65, 95, 97; dry edible beans, emerged 49, 25, 86, 91; alfalfa hay, first cutting 75, 63, 89, 90; alfalfa hay, second cutting 3, 0, 29, 30; other hay, first cutting 52, 38, 79, 74; other hay, second cutting 1, 0, 11, 12; oats, emerged 96, 92, 99, 100; oats, headed 51, 35, 80, 82.

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