Southwest Michigan vegetable regional report – September 3, 2014
The pumpkin crop appears to be one of the bright spots this year. Plants have grown well during the season, fruit has colored early and harvest has begun from some fields.
According to the Michigan State University Benton Harbor Enviro-weather station, the area received around 0.75 inches of rain for the week. Temperatures were near normal with highs from 78 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit and lows from 62 to 69 F. We are at 2,197 base 50 growing degree days (GDD), putting us 210 units behind 2013 and 241 behind the five-year average. Rain continues to be badly needed for non-irrigated crops in some areas while other areas have had too much rain. Lack of heat units continues to slow growth and maturity for many crops.
Growers need to continue to protect vine crops for downy mildew, especially in cucumbers, pickles and cantaloupe. Michigan State University Extension advises using the most effective products at this time. Pumpkin harvest has begun in some fields. Later-planted fields will still need protection from powdery mildew. Fruit need to be protected and allowed to mature and not get sunburned.
The insect of greatest concern continues to be aphids. This is especially true in peppers and vine crops. In some plantings, the populations are so high the plastic under the plants is sticky. An increase in virus symptoms in these plantings has been observed.
White mold has been found in snap bean plantings and bacterial pressure continues in many tomato fields.
Late blight has been reported in potato tubers. Growers need to be aware that to protect tubers they need to protect the plants. The disease can move from the plants to the tubers, causing obvious problems at harvest, but breakdown will continue in storage as well.
Plastic is being removed from some fields.