Flint, Michigan area urban agriculture report – September 3, 2014

Plant disease pressures remain high for growers in urban and semi-rural small scale diversified vegetable farm fields, hoop-houses and market gardens as harvest continues.

Plant disease pressures remain high for growers in urban and semi-rural small scale diversified vegetable farm fields, hoop-houses and market gardens as harvest continues. Late blight on tomatoes and potatoes has been widespread in home gardens and small scale farm fields in the past two weeks.

Weather

According to the Michigan State University Enviro-weather station in Flint, Michigan, temperatures for the past week ranged from a 52.9 degrees Fahrenheit low to an 86.4 F high. We are at 2224 GDD base 50 (Growing Degree Days), and our growing season has rebounded slightly with the warmth of the past week, although it remains behind an average season. The rainfall total for the year is 23.14 inches, and we had .27 inches of rainfall in the past two weeks, depending on location.

Crop Reports

According to research done in the MSU Hoop-houses located at the Student Organic Farm and educator observations from the field, many crops are being harvested due to season extension technology, which has been especially helpful for crop ripening during this cool summer. Resources available on the MSU Hoop-house website include general information, crop schedules, business planning information, transplant information and funding opportunities for hoop-house growers. In area hoop-houses, planting of fall crops continue, including carrots, onions, radish, salad mix, spinach and turnips.

Powdery mildew on vine crops, downy mildew on cucumbers and melons, and late blight on tomatoes and potatoes continue to be big concerns now, as this season’s weather has been so favorable for plant diseases. Growers are spraying to manage mildew on cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini and similar vine crops. Late blight on tomatoes has been reported extensively in area home gardens and small-scale farms in the past two weeks in the Flint area, and many growers (and homeowners) had to remove and destroy their affected crops to try to contain the outbreak.

Growers are now spraying their remaining tomato and potato crops not yet affected by blight preventatively to finish the crop and harvest what is left. For excellent information on tomato late blight in Michigan, including spray recommendations for homeowners, organic growers and growers using integrated pest management practices; fungicide trials; diagnostic photos; the Michigan risk monitoring map and the national website USA blight, please visit: http://www.veggies.msu.edu

Going to area markets now

According to a Michigan State University Extension food systems educator, area growers are harvesting tomatoes (slicers, heirlooms and cherries), peppers, kale, perennial herbs and basil from area hoop-houses. From the field carrots, peppers, Swiss chard, pole beans, summer squash, zucchini, beets, kale, sweet corn and potatoes are being harvested this week.

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For helpful information on how to select, prepare and preserve Michigan’s bounty of fresh, locally-grown vegetables, fruits, ornamentals, meats, eggs and fish, check out the MSU Extension Michigan Fresh program. It has 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.

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