Flint, Mich., area urban agriculture report – August 28, 2013

Warmer weather in the past week has helped crop growth in the field.

Warmer weather in the past week has helped crop growth in the field. Rain arrived this week, and after two solid weeks without it, growers are grateful. Crop harvest (and variety) from urban hoop-houses is increasing as the summer progresses.


According to the Michigan State University Enviro-weather station in Flint MI, temperatures for the past week ranged from a 52.7 degree low to a 88.1 degree high F with an average of 73.5 F, with summer-like weather back again. We are at 2248 GDD base 50 (Growing Degree Days), which is slightly ahead of normal (2157 ave.), but behind last year’s reading of 2444 at this time. The area received around .96 inches of rainfall in the past two days, increasing soil moisture favorable for crop growth and reducing the need for additional irrigation; after two weeks without rain it is welcome. Our rainfall total for the year is 24.77 inches – the average annual rainfall in the Flint area is 30.3 inches.

Crop Reports

Fall crops (carrots, scallions, beets) are being planted in area hoop-houses for winter harvest as summer crops (cucumbers and summer squash) are removed. Fall crops are also being planted in the field. Fall greens (chard, kale, Pak Choy – Chinese cabbage) are being planted under low tunnels to avoid flea beetles, as are onions to avoid onion root maggots.

Mexican Bean Beetle Larvae

Several insect problems were noted this week, including ongoing issues with flea beetles, squash bugs and Mexican bean beetle larvae (pictured in photo, above) & adults. Powdery mildew continues on squash vine crops causing the leaves to decline, and early leaf loss can lead to sunscald and fruit damage/decline, so for fall ripening winter squash and pumpkin crops, growers should make an effort to maintain those leaves for another month to ensure a good fall harvest. Many fungicides are listed for powdery mildew control, but options are fewer for growers avoiding synthetic pesticides. For more information on tolerant pumpkin varieties, cultural management tips and materials that can be used in organic systems, please see Managing Cucurbit Powdery Mildew Organically. Leaf spot has been noted on Swiss chard as well. Groundhogs are an ongoing problem for many urban farms.

Co-Op Stall

According to a Michigan State University Extension educator, harvest out of area hoop-houses continues, with basil, peppers, and tomatoes brought to market. From the field storage and summer onions, green beans, summer squash, cherry, slicing and heirloom tomatoes, potatoes, leeks, cucumbers, scallions, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, lettuce mix, and beets are being harvested and brought to the urban growers’ co-operative stall at the Flint Farmer’s Market on Saturday.

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