Flint, Michigan area urban agriculture report – July 16, 2014
A mid-summer cooler period and abundant rainfall in the past two weeks has moderated vegetable crop growth in urban and semi-rural small scale diversified farm fields, hoop-houses and market gardens.
A mid-summer cooler period and abundant rainfall in the past two weeks has moderated vegetable crop growth in urban and semi-rural small-scale diversified farm fields, hoop-houses and market gardens. High humidity and frequent spans of leaf wetness have growers on the lookout for plant diseases, as these conditions are ideal for disease development.
According to the Michigan State University Enviro-weather station in Flint, Michigan, temperatures for the past week ranged from a 54 degrees Fahrenheit low to an 85 F high. We are at 1300 GDD base 50 (Growing Degree Days), which is normal for this time of year. The rainfall total for the year is 17.41 inches, and we received .76 inches of rainfall this past week, yet had received 2.73 inches in the previous week, which puts us above normal for the past month. Soil moisture in the region ranges from adequate to abundant.
According to research done at the MSU Hoop-houses located at the Student Organic Farm and educator observations from the field, many crops are ready for early harvest due to season extension technology. In area hoop-houses growers are seeing a heirlooms and slicing tomatoes beginning to turn color. Bell peppers are sizing nicely and some are showing signs of color. Both winter and summer squash fruits are forming. Growers are doing some additional pruning on tomatoes to improve airflow, and making sure that the sides of the hoop-houses do not have weeds blocking air movement, to help prevent plant disease development.
Pests seen this week in area hoop-houses and fields are zebra caterpillars (a minor pest of many vegetable crops) on multiple crops, cabbage moths, and tomato horn worms. One grower is seeing early instar larvae on the first two pests and some huge late instars on the latter. Flea beetles on collards and cucumber beetles on vine crops are ongoing in some fields. Growers are on the lookout for plant diseases, as the weather has been conducive for disease development and late blight on potatoes and downy mildew on cucumbers has been detected in other areas of the state.
Going to area markets now
According to a Michigan State University Extension food systems educator, growers are harvesting carrots and herbs, cherry tomatoes, New Zealand spinach (tetragonia), Dinosaur kale, basil, lettuce, beets, beet greens, Swiss chard, green beans, summer squash, cucumbers, lemon grass, green peppers, salad purslane and the last peas this week out of area urban hoop-houses. Out of area fields – the last of the snap peas, onions, herbs, broccoli, beet greens, Napa cabbage, Swiss chard, collards, Bok Choy, mustard greens, Red Russian and Dinosaur kale, dill, lemon balm, tarragon, thyme, and lettuce are being harvested. Beans are in full bloom in one grower’s field and they will be harvesting them next week.
For helpful information on how to select, prepare, and preserve the state’s bounty of fresh, locally grown vegetables, fruits, ornamentals and now meats, eggs, and fish check out the MSU Extension Michigan Fresh program, with current fact sheets on over 40 produce crops, general food and ornamental gardening information, food preservation information, a seasonal harvest availability guide and a guide for donating fresh produce.