East Michigan vegetable update – May 3, 2017

Cool weather and wet conditions are slowing early-season plantings, but we’re ahead, so that’s OK.

Mike Yancho, Jr., demonstrates proper technique. The hand at the bottom of the wheel helps prevent wiggly rows when looking backwards to check on staff and machinery in motion.
Mike Yancho, Jr., demonstrates proper technique. The hand at the bottom of the wheel helps prevent wiggly rows when looking backwards to check on staff and machinery in motion.


There was scattered frost this morning, May 3, and temperatures were down to 28-29 degrees Fahrenheit in low-lying areas.

Today is the best weather day of the week for our region, but soils are still too wet for field work in many areas. Another weather system is approaching, and the southeastern region of the state will get 1 to 2 inches of light, steady precipitation starting tonight and easing up on Saturday, May 6.

This system will also be unseasonably cool (highs in the 40s) with strong and gusty winds and the potential threat of frost from Canadian air masses that will move in on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mornings next week. The medium range forecast calls for a cool and dry pattern for May.

The table below shows degree-days (DD) base 50 F since March 1, and rainfall (inches since April 1) accumulations to date from Michigan State University Enviro-weather stations in the region.

Rainfall and DD totals as of May 3, 2017
LocationDD (+ added from last week)DD 5-year averageRainfall (+ added from last week)Rainfall 5-year average
Emmett 145
(+ 35)
122.1 0.91
(+ 0.91)
Fairgrove 154
(+ 32)
135.1 5.06
(+ 1.45)
Flint 196
(+ 37)
131.8 5.92
(+ 1.68)
Frankenmuth 165
(+ 33)
143.6 6.22
(+ 1.33)
Freeland 152
(+ 31)
127 6.65
(+ 1.29)
Lapeer 184
(+ 36)
151.3 3.48
(+ 0.97)
Linwood 129
(+ 28)
106.9 7.12
(+ 1.79)
Munger 148
(+ 31)
123.7 5.91
(+ 1.09)
Romeo 164
(+ 33)
130.9 3.14
(+ 0.76)
Sandusky 133
(+ 33)
110 4.53
(+ 1.06)


Transplanted sweet onions have been placed out in the Bay area. They are already at the one- to two-leaf stage, and post-emergent herbicides can be applied safely once they have rooted.

Transplanted cole crops have been placed in bare ground plots in the Bay area.

Sweet corn was seeded over the last two to three weeks, and I spotted first emergence in the Bay area on Tuesday, May 2, on mucky ground with warmer black soils.

Strawberry flower trusses are still emerging, and early varieties have begun blooming at field edges.

Heated hoophouse tomatoes are still green and growing. Be on the lookout for botrytis gray mold with these cooler days. Humidity can build up in the hoophouses when it’s too cold to open up and vent the structure.

Field tomatoes have just started being transplanted last week under protective row covers and hot caps on plastic mulch.

Tablestock potato planting is underway, and cutting seed potatoes is wrapping up.


MSU Extension educators Marissa Schuh and Fred Springborn have been catching large flights of black cutworm moths this week, which established a biofix date for their development on May 1. It will take 90 growing degree-days from May 1 for caterpillars to hatch and 300 growing degree-days from May 1 to begin clipping plant stems. To check the growing degree-day accumulation at base 50 in your area, use the Enviroweather degree-day tool and set your start date for May 1.

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.

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