Vegetable growers’ news for Southeast Michigan

Late spring leaves growers impatient to move ahead.

While gardeners are anxious to get their grass cut and gardens in, wet and cold conditions and the lingering effects of winter snowfall are keeping vegetable growers from getting underway. With heat accumulation two weeks behind normal, field activities are also well behind average. The area has received some precipitation on 10 of the last 14 days and coupled with above normal rainfall in April and very cool temperatures, many upland fields remain too wet to work. As a result, the laying of plastic is behind normal as well. A low of 38°F. this morning was only a few degrees warmer than the average temperature of 43 degrees yesterday. Rye cover crops are in excellent condition and may help dry soils. In this region many vegetable growers also produce bedding plants and the weather conditions have impacts on both the production and customer side. This is a challenging spring on both fronts so far.

Over-wintered parsnips and spinach and the last hothouse rhubarb is being retailed or shipped. As I reported two weeks ago, limited amounts of peas, beets, parsley and other cool season crops have been seeded or transplanted and are progressing slowly. On muck soils there is progress in seeding onions and carrots and transplanting lettuce.

On mineral soils, sweet corn seeding is well behind schedule and growers will be seeding this week despite less than optimum soil conditions. The Enviroweather insect predictive model is alerting growers of crops such as beans and sweet corn that seed corn maggot may be an issue as the overwinter adults are predicted to be flying and laying eggs at this time.

Early cabbage is particularly late in being transplanted this season and with the late date and difficulty holding transplants workers are braving the cold and getting the crop into somewhat wet soils.

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