Flint, Michigan area urban agriculture report – July 23, 2014
A mid-summer dry period and moderate temperatures in the past week has assisted fruit set and sizing in vegetable crops in urban and semi-rural small scale diversified farm fields, hoop-houses and market gardens.
A mid-summer dry period and moderate temperatures in the past week has assisted fruit set and sizing in vegetable crops in urban and semi-rural small scale diversified farm fields, hoop-houses and market gardens. Many foliar diseases are showing up in area hoop-houses, as recent weather conditions have been ideal for disease development.
According to the Michigan State University Enviro-weather station in Flint, Michigan, temperatures for the past week ranged from a 51.6 degrees Fahrenheit low to an 87.9 F high. We are at 1442 GDD base 50 (Growing Degree Days), which is slightly below normal for this time of year. Some growers feel that their crops are a bit delayed in their development relative to last year. The rainfall total for the year is 17.42 inches; we had no appreciable rainfall this past week, so growers whose soils have dried out have turned their irrigation systems on, which was the first time in some cases (outdoors) this year.
According to research done at the Michigan State University 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 getting ready to start fall transplants and have cover crops sprouting in some beds. In the fields – carrots and beets have had their thinning and are sizing up. One grower has the first summer squash of the season (direct seeded, not transplanted) about 6 inches long, and the first green beans. Growers are planting the last succession of sweet corn, cucumbers and beans.
Pests seen this week in area hoop-houses are foliar plant diseases including various leaf spots (okra, cucumbers, peppers, spinach), blights (tomatoes, cucumbers) and powdery mildew (squash family plants), as the weather has been conducive for disease development. Growers are working on improving airflow, especially in their crops growing in hoop-houses by keeping the sides open and removing weeds that block air movement, to help manage plant disease development. Fungicides suitable to their growing practices are being applied as well. Continued problems with cucumber and flea beetles, squash vine borers and various caterpillars are noted in both hoop-houses and fields.
In an area hoop-house, problems with fruit set in parthenocarpic cucumber varieties (varieties that form fruit without pollination or seed formation, grown in greenhouses) was determined to be a case of the fruit being cross-pollinated, which allowed the variety to form seeds which caused misshaped fruit. For these varieties it is best if there are no pollinators, according to recommendations from an MSU vegetable specialist.
Going to area markets now
According to a Michigan State University Extension food systems educator, growers are harvesting cherry and slicing tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, okra, green beans, radishes and carrots this week, with peppers and heirloom tomatoes ripening for next week’s harvest.
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.