Flint, Michigan, area urban agriculture update – Sept. 5, 2018

Growers are battling wet fields after recent heavy rains, impeding crop harvest.

Spaghetti squash
Spaghetti squash. Photo courtesy of Simple Gifts Farm.

Weather

According to the Michigan State University Flint Enviroweather station, temperatures for the past week ranged from a low of 53.9 degrees Fahrenheit to a high of 90 F–and the hot weather, rain and high relative humidity continues. We are now at 2,674 growing degree-days (GDD) base 50 and our season is two weeks ahead when compared to the five-year average.

It’s been a seasonal tale of two extremes: heat, drought and now too wet. The Flint area received 3.26 to 4.14 inches of rain over the past two weeks. That is the average of a month’s worth of rain in a much shorter time, restoring us to seasonal rainfall averages. The challenge is that the rainfall totals have been so variable depending on location; for some growers, the combination of really wet fields, high heat and early maturing crops (with our season ahead relative to normal), makes harvesting difficult and raises concerns for crop quality in storage.

Crop reports

According to research done in the Michigan State University hoop houses located at the Student Organic Farm and educator observations from the field, harvesting tomatoes and peppers in area hoop houses continues. Fall carrots are up and growing; beets, radishes and leafy greens will be planted as fall crops in area hoop houses after summer crop harvest is complete. Powdery mildew disease promoted by high heat and humidity has caused vine crops to die down early in some fields.

Going to area farmers markets and into CSA shares

Area growers are harvesting tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, Swiss chard, beets, kale, summer squash (zucchini, yellow) and winter squash (including acorn, butternut, delicata, spaghetti and kabocha). Cabbage and sweet corn are out of area hoop houses and farm fields.

MSU Extension’s Community Food Systems Work Team supports the development of local food systems in Michigan. The Michigan Fresh program has tips on growing, handling and preserving, as well as healthful recipes to take advantage of the delicious Michigan-grown bounty from your local farmer’s market. For more information, connect with your local community food systems educator by visiting http://www.canr.msu.edu/outreach/ or calling 1-888-678-3464.

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