West Central Michigan vegetable regional report – June 4, 2014

Asparagus harvest has been ongoing at a rapid pace, and other crops are being planted across West Central Michigan.

Crop report

Asparagus pickings continued to be heavy over the past seven days in Oceana and Mason counties, with some farms recording record single-day yields and field crews working long hours. Picking had slowed temporarily at some Mason County farms yesterday, June 3, with the cool weather and backups at area packers. Two-year-old fields were being shut down in one Mason County location yesterday after six pickings. It is time to start thinking about what problem weeds you will need to target with your post-harvest herbicide applications. See what products are available in asparagus as recommended by Michigan State University Extension.

Common asparagus beetles were also abundant late last week and laying eggs in Oceana County, though beetles seemed less active early this week. Spotted asparagus beetle adults were also present yesterday at one Mason County location. Spotted asparagus beetles are not a major pest, as its larvae feed primarily on the berries of female plants. Asparagus miner adults were also visible on spears last week and again this week.

Two asparagus beetle species are now active in asparagus. The common asparagus beetle (right) is a pest, while the spotted asparagus beetle (left) is typically not, as its larvae feed on berries and not the plant.

Carrots were up and developing one to three true leaves in Oceana County locations I visited over the past week. Aster leafhoppers were captured in low numbers in Oceana County carrot fields, with some sampled individuals testing positive for aster yellows. At this point, we have not obtained enough leafhoppers to estimate the percentage infected accurately. At this early date, prime locations for collecting leafhoppers include wheat cover crops or wheat and oat fields adjacent to carrot fields. These cereals are easier to sweep than carrot seedlings and host aster leafhoppers. Once they develop grain, leafhoppers are harder to find in these crops.

Aster leafhoppers were present in the celery growing region this past week with three to four captured per 100 sweeps in Allegan, Kent and Ottawa county locations. A cutworm egg mass was also spotted in celery by a local crop scout.

Oceana County growers I visited this past Friday, May 30, and Monday, June 2, had finished or were continuing plantings of pumpkins and winter squash. Yellow zucchini had also been planted over the past week in Oceana County. Maximum daily soil temperatures have now been above 70 degrees Fahrenheit for the last five or so days at the Fremont, Hart, Hudsonville, Ludington and Sparta Enviro-weather stations. In addition, growing degree day models suggest that the peak of seed corn maggot egglaying occurred almost a month ago. These factors suggest a reduced risk from this pest for plantings of winter squash, summer squash, pumpkins and cucumbers going in the ground now.

Colorado potato beetle adults were active across the state this week in potato fields. Volunteer potato survival has been high in areas to our south.

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