Southwest Michigan vegetable update – May 17, 2017

Planting is going full speed ahead.

Freeze injury symptoms on sweet corn grown under low tunnels after experiencing the freezing temperatures of May 8, 2017. All photos by Ron Goldy, MSU Extension.

Freeze injury symptoms on sweet corn grown under low tunnels after experiencing the freezing temperatures of May 8, 2017. All photos by Ron Goldy, MSU Extension.

Weather

Degree-day wise, we are a bit ahead of last year and the five-year average, but in actual planting we are a bit behind on some crops due to the cool/cold temperatures of May 7, 8 and 9. Many growers delayed planting based on the forecast. Direct seeding and planting is being done as quickly as possible. Some areas are getting dry since they have had less than an inch of rain over the past two weeks. Michigan State University Extension recommends quick irrigation if the beds were shaped when the soil was on the dry side.

Field activity

Now that cold temperatures appear to be over, growers are quickly putting in their early plantings that have been delayed a week or so.

Crop reports

Sweet corn plantings damaged in the freeze have begun to recover (see photos), providing the growing point did not suffer damage. They have also begun to green up since temperatures are now more conducive for nitrogen uptake. Planting continues.

Cross section of the same plants in the above picture showing viable internal tissue with the growing point undamaged.

Cross section of the same plants in the above picture showing viable internal tissue with the growing point undamaged.

The same planting a week later (May 15, 2017) showing plant recovery and subsequent regrowth.

The same planting a week later (May 15, 2017) showing plant recovery and subsequent regrowth.

Asparagus harvest slowed but will now pick up as temperatures increase. Purple spot began to show up in some plantings last week. Growers are on about their 16th harvest. Damage from the May 8 freeze varied considerably. Some areas had no damage, others were damaged to the extent that they needed to be mowed.

Peas are 6 inches tall. No sign of bloom.

Some cucumber, yellow squash and zucchini transplants had been set out under low tunnels. Some freeze damage began to show up after last week’s report and growers are replanting if they have transplants. Early, direct-seeded plantings have begun to emerge. Direct seeding is continuing.

Some early plantings of tomatoes and peppers did receive some damage from May 7–9. Many times, tomatoes will send out new shoots from below the damage. It is possible to manage these into a productive plant, just turn one of the shoots into a new leader and take off the rest. You will have to be careful on how you handle the plant since the new shoot will be prone to breaking off. My experience with peppers is that it is better to replace them. Peppers never seem to recover economic productivity even if they start to regrow.

Early potatoes are 4 inches tall.

Related Articles