Flint, Michigan, area urban agriculture update – May 18, 2018
Growers in urban and semi-rural small scale diversified vegetable farm fields, hoophouses and market gardens have battled wind and rain to get their fields prepped and planted over the past two weeks.
According to the Michigan State University Flint Enviro-weather station, temperatures for the past two weeks have ranged from a low of 37.1 degrees Fahrenheit to a high of 80.2 F—wide swing at this time of the year, keeping hoophouse growers on their toes in terms of protecting plants from cold and ventilating crops when too warm.
We are now at 266 growing degree-days (GDD) base 50. This past two week’s warmth has us near normal compared to the five-year average; we are only a day behind. The Flint, Michigan, area has received 2.33 inches of rain in the past two weeks, in almost daily rain events this past week, keeping some grower’s fields too wet to prepare and plant. Strong winds have also challenged hoophouse growers over the past two weeks, with some farms sustaining damage to their hoophouse plastic coverings.
According to research at the MSU hoophouses located at the Student Organic Farm and educator observations from the field, the planting of the last of the warm season crops like tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers is taking place in area hoophouses. One grower has had trouble with good germination on salad mixes. Insect pest pressure has remained low.
Outdoors, asparagus has emerged, carrots are in the ground and some growers have noticed rhubarb flowering early this year, perhaps due to the consecutive very warm days of the first week of May in our area.
Going to area farmers markets now
According to a Michigan State University Extension food systems educator, area growers are harvesting parsley, cilantro, sorrel, head lettuce, salad mix, radish, radicchio, kale, turnips, spinach and baby Swiss chard from hoophouses. Outside they are harvesting chives, peas and collards.