Central Michigan vegetable update – May 2, 2018

Signs of spring are finally evident in Central Michigan this week.


Piles of snow have all but disappeared and a great deal of spring tillage is underway on many farms. Soil conditions are good for this time of year with the surface dry, yet adequate moisture below.

Air temperatures and soil temperatures have improved in the last few days. At Entrican, soil temperatures have been reaching 50 degrees for highs and staying in the 40s for lows. Air temperatures hit a high of 82 degrees Fahrenheit on May 1, 2018, with previous high generally in the 50s.

Unusually low average humidity levels have been observed over the past couple days.

Crop conditions

Potato planting has begun on nearly all farms this week, with both table stock and chip potatoes going in. Improved soil temperatures will aid this crop over the next few days. No emergence has been observed.

There may be a few asparagus spears emerging, but I have not seen them. Harvest of this crop will be later than usual.

On well-drained soils a variety of cold-hardy vegetable crops such as peas and onions are still being planted by market gardeners.

Sweet corn planting has begun by an increasing number of growers on very well drained soils.

Cover crops such as winter rye and winter wheat have broken dormancy and are beginning to actively grow.

Insect activity

It is time to get black cutworm and true armyworm moth traps out. Both of these species are migratory and we may see flight this week with the improved temperatures and the potential for a storm front moving through the area later this week.

I have not captured true armyworm moths in my traps yet but I do have a report from my colleague Eric Anderson of 44 moths captured in a Hartstack trap in southern Michigan. 

Many Insects have been delayed in activity this spring. Just this week I started to see leaf-footed plant bugs as well as other overwintering insects becoming more common around buildings and sheltered areas. Not all insects will be delayed in their activity by the unusually cold April, but some species certainly will be.

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