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Michigan crop update: Dry conditions cause crop decline

There were 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork in Michigan during the week ending July 22, 2018 according to Marlo Johnson, Director of the Great Lakes Regional Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Abnormally dry conditions prevailed over much of the Lower Peninsula as well as the eastern counties of the Upper Peninsula, while moderate drought conditions continued to be reported in the Northeast and Thumb. 

Despite cooler temperatures throughout the week, continued dry weather was having a negative effect on all crops. There were reports of corn rolling and being slow to tassel with the lack of moisture. Hay cutting slowed in some parts of the State as fields showed very little growth, but weekend rains were expected to restart growth and improve hay and pasture conditions. Soybeans and dry beans also benefited from scattered rainfall throughout the weekend, but not enough to keep the crop condition from declining.

Winter wheat harvest continued at a fast pace, with reporters in southern counties indicating harvest was already complete in their area. In central counties, preliminary yield reports for winter wheat were very good and few quality issues were reported.
Abnormally dry conditions throughout the State has led to an increase of wilting in young trees, but it has also reduced disease presence. The hot summer temperatures have kept growing degree day totals approximately 10 days ahead of normal. 

Despite the dry soils, apples continued to size well with some fruit reaching up to 2.5 inches in diameter. Apricot harvest has ended while peach harvest began for early varieties. Sweet cherry and tart cherry harvest has wrapped up in the East and Southwest; in the Northwest, cherry harvest continued with some concerns of small fruit. European plums growth in the East slowed, while in the Southwest Japanese plum harvest has started. Strawberry leaves began to emerge after renovation. Raspberry harvest continued in the East for red raspberries and has ended for blacks; drought conditions affected the size of the berries. 

Blueberry harvest was going strong for both early and mid-season varieties; prolonged hot and dry weather have slowed the sizing of the berries and sped up the ripening process, making it challenging for growers to keep up. Grapes were at berry touch and clusters began closing. Cranberry bloom was winding down.

Cucumber and sweet corn harvest continued in the Southeastern region. Peppers and tomatoes were making good progress in the west, although insect and disease pressure are expected to increase moving forward. Potatoes were showing fairly strong growth in the central region with no reports of late blight to date. Cucurbit crops in the Southwest were showing virus symptoms and growers are encouraged to be diligent in scouting efforts.