Regional reports on Michigan vegetables – May 2, 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


High temperatures for the week ranged from 49 to 65°F and lows from 27 to 42°F. Soil temperatures are averaging in the low 50s. Precipitation for the area was nearly 1 inch. The 27°F occurred Friday, April 27.

Field activity

Field work is well ahead of normal due to the warmer and drier than normal conditions. Due to recent rains, soil moisture is adequate for plastic mulch application and fumigation.

Crop reports

Asparagus harvest has slowed due to freezing temperatures, but should return by the weekend.

Peas are about 6 inches tall with no bloom.

Tomatoes, cucumbers and squash are being planted under low tunnels. No open-field plantings have been observed.

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Central Michigan – Fred Springborn, Michigan State University Extension

Central Michigan
Central Michigan


Cool weather persisted during the past couple of weeks. High air temperatures were in the mid-50s to low 60s with lows generally in the 30s. Low air temperatures dropped to 27°F on April 27 and a low of 25°F on April 29. Low soil temperatures at 2 inches have been in the lower to mid-40s, with highs in the upper 40s to low 50s. Precipitation has been generally light with 2/10 of an inch on April 26 and from 2/10 to 0.5 inches on April 30.


Potato planting is well underway with several growers starting roughly 10 days ago. Soil conditions have been generally favorable for planting and tillage. Wind erosion has been an issue on a few fields where little crop residue and no cover crop was in place.

Wind-blown soil
Wind-blown soil in Bay County where no cover crop was in place.

Many small scale vegetable producers have held off on planting due to the recent cool weather and still relatively early date on the calendar, though several do have peas, onions, and table beets that have emerged.

I have been catching low numbers of true armyworm moths in pheromone traps for the past 10 days and I am now catching low numbers of black cutworm moths. Given the high numbers caught in Indiana this spring, growers are advised to regularly scout fields and plantings that may be threatened by these pests.

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West Central Michigan – Norm Myers, Michigan State University Extension

West Central Michigan
West Central Michigan

Oceana and Mason counties

While some growers have harvested a picking of asparagus, with the numerous frosts during the last half of April, many growers have yet to do a commercial harvest. We had an especially severe freeze on the morning of Friday, April 27 – the Enviro-weather station at the Asparagus Research Farm recorded a low of 21.2 degrees. This freeze event killed almost all spears through the ground at that point and most growers do not expect to harvest any quantity of asparagus again until late this week. Actual amounts of damage are widely variable depending on whether rye cover crop was present to hold back spear emergence and when it was sprayed off and mowed. We will probably have a better idea of the impact of the frost on asparagus later in the season.

Carrot planting began in the Oceana and Mason county area two weeks ago. Fortunately no carrots had emerged at the time of Friday’s freeze, so fields received little or no damage. Germination appears to have been unaffected by cold soil temperatures. Carrots were emerged in Newaygo County, but stands appear to be unaffected, although fields there would certainly benefit from some warm, sunny weather. Growers are completing planting in northern Michigan, where acreage has been expanding in recent years.

On the pest front, one of the earlier storm fronts dropped a large number of aster leafhoppers that have been observed by growers throughout western Michigan. I have collected a sample and will submit it to MSU Diagnostics Services tomorrow (May 3) for an aster yellows infectivity rating. The results should be back in time for next week’s call.

Muck vegetable growing areas in Ottawa, Kent and Newaygo counties

Onion planting is still going on in this part of my territory. Earliest planted onions have one true leaf, but most fields are just emerging. Celery is mostly still going out under frost protection, but a little has gone out on open ground. I am not sure how that faired with last Friday’s frost. Hudsonville, Mich., had 25 degrees that morning and I haven’t been back to look at any fields since then.

Some early radishes are emerged. While a substantial acreage of fresh potatoes has been planted, none have emerged yet. Open areas in Grant and Fremont, Mich., received some wind damage in the high winds on Monday, April 23.

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