Central Michigan vegetable update – Sept. 29, 2018

The season is winding down as harvest is in full swing or complete for many vegetable crops.

Potato harvest
Potato harvest is underway in the central region. Photo by Fred Springborn, MSU Extension.


Nighttime lows have dipped into the 40s for the past several days, which is not only an indication that fall has arrived but also storage of crops such as potatoes is in full swing as growers take advantage of cool nighttime temperatures to ventilate and cool the crop. Daytime highs are in the 60s and 70s.

Soil conditions are favorable as excess water has drained from the rains earlier in the month, yet most soils still have adequate moisture for digging root crops and late season plant growth. The majority of vegetable crops are harvested, mature or near maturity and not particularly vulnerable to frost.


Potato harvest is well underway with growers shipping and storing potatoes. There are a few late planted fields that have not been vine killed at this point, but in general the crop is waiting to be harvested. No late blight has been observed or reported this season. While that is good news, continue managing stone piles, cull potatoes and fall field practices to minimize volunteer survival. There has been soft rot issues that may affect storage of this crop

Sweet corn harvest is, for the most part, done. Only a few growers still have some late plantings they are picking. In sweet corn that did not receive insecticide treatment, western bean cutworm was the most commonly observed ear pest in 2018. European corn borer and corn earworm were observed but not in large numbers. While European corn borer pressure continues to be much lower than it was in the mid-1990s, it has been observed more often in the past couple of seasons. This may be due to neighboring grain farms increasing acres of conventional, non-Bt hybrids to either cut costs or fill specific market needs.

Market gardens are active harvesting a wide range of fall crops including onions, garlic, table beets, cole crops, bell peppers and others.

Squash and pumpkin harvest is underway. Powdery mildew is widely present and hastened the decline of leaf canopies and vines late in the season.

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