See how the wheat crop is progressing across Michigan this week.

After a short hiatus, wheat watchers is back in action. This report will come out weekly until we are through flowering across much of the state and then frequency will be bi-weekly through harvest. This report is only possible because of our agribusinesses and farmers who participate as wheat watchers. If you are interested in being a wheat watcher, especially if you see your area isn’t represented, please reach out to Jenna Falor, Michigan State University Extension field crops educator, at [email protected].

Overall, reporters are seeing wheat stands in good condition ranging in Feekes growth stages 4-7. All reports have the first round of spring nitrogen application finished with some areas starting their second spring applications of nitrogen. The cold weather has stalled or postponed herbicide applications across the state.

Southwest region

One wheat watcher reported that fields were scouted throughout St. Joseph County. The crop was reported as averaging at Feekes stage 6 with some beginning to hit Feekes stage 7. Spring fertilization has largely been completed and many of the fields already have a herbicide application. Those still spraying may need to switch products now that jointing has occurred. The weather has been cold and wet over the past week, which has caused slow growth.

If you are interested in receiving southwest Michigan crop updates, MSU Extension field crops educator Eric Anderson puts out a weekly update through MSU Extension Field Crops news.

Southeast region

We had two wheat watchers reporting in, one located in Monroe County near Ida, Michigan, and the other in Washtenaw County near Manchester, Michigan. Both of our reporters are seeing Feekes 7. In Monroe County, most herbicide has been applied and the second application of nitrogen occurred at the end of April. They have had 2 inches of rain over the last five days. The Washtenaw County watcher has reported that the first spring application of nitrogen has occurred and they are waiting for warmer temperatures before applying herbicide. Overall, the wheat looks very good.

Closeup of wheat crop in a field.
Photo by Brad Kamprath.

East central (Thumb) region

We had three wheat watchers reporting from the Thumb: two from Huron County near Elkton and Ubly, Michigan, respectively, and one from Tuscola County near Cass City, Michigan. The average Feekes stage was 5-6. Most have the first round of spring nitrogen application complete with a few people having made their second spring nitrogen application and herbicide applications. The watcher in Tuscola County reports they have completed approximately half of their herbicide application and weeds are growing though.

Right now, everyone is on hold for herbicide applications waiting for warmer temperatures and drier conditions. This area has been wet over the past week with some areas seeing 2-plus inches of rain and some fields have ponding occurring. The extended moisture is causing a concern that it could create favorable conditions for disease pressure or nitrogen loss. Overall, watchers are reporting the wheat crop looks excellent.

Central region

We had three wheat watchers reporting in from the central region. They were from Bay County near Auburn, Michigan, Gratiot County near Alma, Michigan, and Eaton County near Mason, Michigan. Gratiot and Eaton counties report wheat at Feekes 6 while Bay County reported Feekes 4-5. The first spring application of nitrogen has been applied across the region. In Ingham County, it is time for the second spring application of nitrogen. Bay County is a couple weeks out from herbicide applications yet, whereas herbicide applications are slowed/stopped due to cold weather. T1 herbicide applications should be going on soon in Ingham County.

The watcher in Bay County reports that weed, insect and disease pressure are minimal. Weather across the region has been similar to much of the rest of the state, with a warm spurt that caused the wheat crop to take off, but then cooler weather kept growth in check.

The Bay County watcher also reported no ponding/icing over issues this winter. The Gratiot County watcher is concerned about some ponding from recent rains but only time will tell if it will drain off before any damage is done. Our Ingham County watcher saw ponding but most of it drained quickly enough not to cause any damage.

Updates on moth counts and crop conditions are given live each week on Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. on the MSU Extension Field Crops Facebook page by Monica Jean.

Dennis Pennington Wheat Watcher 5 3 23.jpg
Photo by Dennis Pennington, MSU Extension.

West central region

We had one wheat watcher reporting in from this region located in Kent County near Lowell, Michigan. He is reporting Feekes stage 4-5. Most of the first passes of spring nitrogen have been applied but he has not seen any herbicide being applied yet. Conditions for wheat growth have been good but could switch to wet with more spring rains. This fall provided ideal planting conditions and winter was very mild, which has got this crop off to a great start. There is a slight concern of wheat acres switching to corn as the values aren’t far apart.

Extra notes from Dennis Pennington, MSU wheat systems specialist

Scouting fields for diseases should be done soon. Powdery mildew and Septoria are starting to show up in susceptible varieties. Overall, wheat looks good across the state. Regionally, our Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) cooperators in Kentucky are near boot stage to early heading. Ohio, Indiana and Illinois are mostly Feekes 7-8. Most of the wheat in Michigan is late Feekes 5 to early Feekes 7.