Regional reports on Michigan vegetables – April 11, 2012

MSU Extension educators’ pest and vegetable updates for Michigan.

This week’s regional reports:

Southwest Michigan – Ron Goldy, Michigan State University Extension

Southwest Michigan
Southwest Michigan


Temperatures have been near normal after record high temperatures. Some areas have experienced below freezing temperatures after the record heat. The only crop to suffer damage was asparagus. Dry conditions have allowed growers to get a substantial amount of field work done. However, moisture is needed before they can effectively shape beds and lay plastic.

Field activity

Site preparation is continuing at a good pace. Fields are being plowed and disked and are being made ready for bed shaping.

Crop reports

Asparagus harvest began two weeks ago, but has since slowed and essentially come to a halt due to cool weather.

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Central Michigan – Fred Springborn, Michigan State University Extension

Central Michigan
Central Michigan


Much of the central region has experienced the mildest winter and spring weather anyone can remember. Soil temperatures were close to the freezing mark at the 2-inch level for much of December, January and February, and often hovering just above freezing. The absence of snow cover was also notable this year and likely contributed to the fluctuation of soil temperatures. Soil conditions are quite dry in many areas allowing for spring tillage to occur ahead of schedule. Winter annual weed growth is quite vigorous in many fields.


Very little large-scale planting of potatoes has occurred, but will likely get underway soon as soil temperatures warm back up. While the short duration of weight restrictions on area roads this year made shipping of potatoes and seed a bit easier, it is also an indication of what I mentioned above about soil temperatures. Field observations indicate that potatoes on the surface froze over the winter, but many survived if they were buried in the soil or were protected by crop residue. Monitor cull potato piles, fields where culls were spread, and last season’s potato fields closely this year for volunteer potatoes.

Rye cover crops are being killed, as are a few wheat fields.

Nearly all sugarbeets have been planted with a few fields emerged.

Small-scale farm marketers have begun planting a wide range of early spring crops. Many, particularly those who rely on horses to work the soil, have not made the progress I assumed they would have. One of the disadvantages of the sudden early warm up is that many draft animals were not yet in condition to work in the 80 degree weather we experienced in March.

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West Central Michigan – Norm Myers, Michigan State University Extension

West Central
West Central Michigan

Oceana and Mason counties

Colder, more seasonable weather had pushed the date of first asparagus harvest at least to the week of April 22. This has eased fears of a labor shortage, but the local Michigan Work Force Development office is still sponsoring an Asparagus Industry Job Fair on April 12 near Hart, Mich., in an effort to find more labor. Some early appearing spears have been lost to freezes. While some asparagus has been lost, amounts are probably not economically significant at this time. This is especially true where no rye cover crop was present. The 2012 harvest year will certainly reinforce the use of rye cover in the asparagus industry.

Asparagus crowns had more growth than we would like to see when they were dug. Since new growth is usually destroyed during crown harvest, many growers are delaying crown planting in an effort to avoid damage to newly set crowns by a late freeze. Growers are now spraying rye cover with glyphosate and mowing previously sprayed fields. To my knowledge, no one has begun planting carrots yet, but some may go in the ground this week.

Muck vegetable growing areas in Ottawa, Kent and Newaygo counties

Onion planting is now in full swing in the Hudsonville, Mich., and Byron Center, Mich., muck areas. Some onions were planted in mid-March near Hudsonville, Mich., and are now in the “loop” stage.

Celery planting has begun, but only under row or floating covers. Planting of fresh market potatoes also began last week. Many growers are concentrating on field preparation.

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