Southwest Michigan vegetable regional report – July 23, 2014
Drier weather has prevailed over the past two weeks, allowing some fields to finally dry out but leaving other sites needing irrigation.
According to the Michigan State University Benton Harbor Enviro-weather station, the area received 0.70 inches of rain for the week. Temperatures were near normal with highs from 66 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit and lows from 47 to 64 F. We are at 1,390 base 50 growing degree days (GDD), putting us 161 units behind 2013 and 150 behind the five-year average.
Vine crops. There continues to be reports of poor pollination. This is a combination of weather, the number of bees and how weather affects bee activity. Honey bees are hampered during cool, wet weather and warm, humid weather. We have mostly had cool, wet conditions.
Growers cannot rely on the wild bee population since they simply are not there. Bees also do not particularly like cucumbers and pickles, but are needed for pollination and fruit set. These flowers produce little nectar and not much pollen. To encourage bees to visit these crops, bring hives in as plants begin to flower. If you bring them in too soon, bees will often find better sources and will tend to ignore cucumbers and pickles.
Michigan State University Extension advises growers to continue to be diligent for powdery and downy mildew. Both diseases do best under cloudy, wet, windy conditions.
Tomatoes and peppers. Bacterial diseases continue to be a concern since they got off to an early start. Growers are advised to maintain a tighter than normal spray schedule and to always include a copper product. There are still no reports of general harvest on tomatoes, peppers or eggplant; however, banana pepper harvest is close.