What a difference a year makes – Michigan produce will be abundant!
June is here, and along with the much cooler, more moderate spring weather (compared to last year) comes the tremendous bounty of Michigan produce at your local farmer’s market, produce stand, and grocery store.
MI is second only to California in the diversity of its agricultural products, and although the cooler and wetter weather we have experienced in 2013 has delayed the harvest of early season crops; there will be plenty of produce at Michigan’s farm stands and farmer’s markets to enjoy! Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, rhubarb, snap peas, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, zucchini, summer squashes, sweet corn, leaf and head lettuces, salad greens, radishes, spinach, cucumbers, onions, potatoes and winter squashes are some of the many fruits and veggies that will be available.
This year’s tree fruit crop will be abundant; there should be plenty of apples, pears, peaches, sweet and tart cherries, and plums to go around, unlike last year, despite several freezing events that were recorded this April and May. In fact our MSUE Fruit Educators have been busy advising their tree fruit growers that the huge set of fruit expected after last year’s (2012) worst harvest since 1945 needs to be managed by careful thinning, so that fruit set isn’t so heavy that branches break, fruit quality suffers and to be sure we have a good return bloom for our 2014 fruit crops. Many factors, such as crop load, growth stages and frost & freeze damage are to be considered when planning thinning strategies.
Asparagus, rhubarb, peas, radishes, Swiss chard and other greens are already appearing in the fresh markets. A great resource from Michigan State University Extension should be especially helpful when choosing, then using, your Michigan produce - Michigan Fresh helps people explore the state’s bounty of fresh, locally-grown fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamentals. You’ll find information on recommended varieties, storage, food safety and preserving techniques for Michigan fruits and vegetables. Newly posted to the site is a link for a helpful Michigan Produce Availability Chart, updated by the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems team to inform you when produce is in season and available throughout the year, including field fresh and extended season harvest.
Several of our innovative fruit and vegetable growers across the state are now producing crops traditionally grown in the field in greenhouse - like structures that are called high tunnels or hoop houses. Season extension growing in high tunnels/hoop houses, that are passive solar (unheated) greenhouses, extends the growing season (and increases food production) all year-long, even in northern climates like Michigan.
Growing crops such as strawberries, raspberries, sweet cherries, greens, tomatoes and other vegetable crops in high tunnels allows growers to harvest these crops earlier and later than consumers are used to finding them. Look for these crops in the market place now and through the fall and well into winter. The newly updated Michigan Produce Availability Chart lists these season extended crops. For more information about food production in high tunnels/hoop houses in Michigan, check out the MSU Hoop House website.