East Michigan vegetable regional report – May 4, 2016

Some growers are still delayed with planting by wet soils, others are progressing as transplants are available. Warmer weather would be welcomed.

May 4, 2016 - Author: Ben Phillips,

A bag-culture tomato house in Birch Run looking good. The yellow strings from the ceiling are tied to the trellis posts to keep the top-heavy bags upright. Photo by Ben Phillips, MSU Extension.
A bag-culture tomato house in Birch Run looking good. The yellow strings from the ceiling are tied to the trellis posts to keep the top-heavy bags upright. Photo by Ben Phillips, MSU Extension.


We had rain Sunday night, May 1, that put growers in a pinch to rush some plantings on Tuesday to beat the rain predicted on Wednesday. I suspect there will be another rush on Friday to beat the rain predicted for Saturday as well.

There is a northwesterly front bringing cool, Canadian air today, May 4, which is causing a large area of showers across the Lower Peninsula. However, it should not drop more than a quarter-inch of rain. Normal to below-normal temperatures are forecast in the next week, with overnight lows in the 40s. No freeze threats are predicted.

The following table includes rainfall (inches since April 1) and degree-day (base 50 degrees Fahrenheit since March 1) accumulations to date from Michigan State University Enviro-weather stations in the region

Rainfall and degree-day accumulations as of May 4, 2016


Degree days (+ added from last week)

Five-year average

Rainfall in inches (+ added from last week)

Five-year average


104 (+9)


3.05 (+0.88)



111 (+15)


1.09 (+0.07)



113 (+14)


1.49 (+0.50)



91 (+13)


1.72 (+0.34)



128 (+14)


2.40 (+0.59)



65 (+9)


1.75 (+0.25)



87 (+13)


1.80 (+0.26)



116 (+9)


2.45 (+1.08)



84 (+10)


1.48 (+0.36)



Cole crops have been going in since April 19. MSU Extension vegetable entomologist Zsofia Szendrei and I are setting out swede midge traps this week and next.

Sweet onions are being transplanted. Storage onions are being seeded when the muck is dry enough.

Carrots are going in. Nurse crops are up in drier areas of fields.

Head lettuce has been transplanted in the field, and leaf mix varieties have been seeded in greenhouses.

Potatoes have been tucked in on dry soils. Muck growers raced to finish on Tuesday, May 3, to try and beat the rain today, May 4.

Strawberry leaves continued to emerge over the last week despite cooler to cold weather. Most fields look completely different this week as a result of this rapid leaf growth. MSU Extension fruit educator Bob Tritten is seeing flower trusses emerging from the crown. Some strawberry growers have needed to frost-protect in the last week due to cold morning temperatures.

New hops were being installed and strung over last week. Crown renovation should be done on older plantings. Suspected downy mildew samples have already been submitted. A grower contacted me about C-shaped beetle grubs in a new planting. In most cases, these beetles will be feeding on grass roots and not on hop roots. Japanese beetles, June beetles and rose chafers can sometimes feed on hop as adults, but top growth is so vigorous that it doesn’t seem to be a yield-breaker. Spraying for them for foliar damage will affect too many other beneficial insects, and you should only be concerned if they are feeding on hop flowers before cone set.

Special notes

Some growers have reported winter annual weeds have been strong this spring due to the mild winter. These include chickweed, henbit, purple deadnettle and marestail.

Please contact me at phill406@msu.edu or 616-901-7513 to grab any suspected disease samples from your farm, or send the diseased plant parts to MSU Diagnostic Services.

Tags: agriculture, cole crops, hops, msu extension, onions, potatoes, vegetables

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