Flint, Michigan, area urban agriculture update — April 26, 2018
Growers in urban and semi-rural small scale diversified vegetable farm fields, hoophouses and market gardens are prepping for planting during the warmer and dryer weather this week.
According to the Michigan State University Flint Enviro-weather station, temperatures for the past three weeks ranged from lows of 17.8 degrees Fahrenheit to highs of 72.3 F. We are at 38 growing degree-days (GDD) base 50, which is nearly two weeks behind the five-year average at this point in the growing season. The Flint, Michigan, area has received 3.96 inches of rain since March 1, which is about 1 inch below the five-year average. With the recent warm up, growers are prepping beds indoors and outdoors for planting a range of vegetable crops.
According to research at the MSU hoophouses located at the Student Organic Farm and educator observations from the field, the planting of warm-season crops like tomatoes and peppers in area hoophouses has been delayed about two weeks due to the prolonged cold weather. Many farms are hardening off tomato transplants now and will be planting them in hoophouses over the next week.
Insect pest pressure has been low. In area hoophouses and fields, growers are on the lookout for one of the earliest pests of spring, flea beetles, especially in the cool-season leafy crops used in winter production. Flea beetles damage plants by chewing small shot holes in the foliage and can be a serious pest, reducing the market value of the crop. Rotating crops and destroying crop residue can help decrease flea beetle numbers in the field. Row covers can be used to exclude flea beetles as well.
Going to area farmers markets now
According to a MSU Extension food systems educator, area growers are harvesting winter grown salad greens, including baby Bok choy, spinach, kale, collards, mustard and beet greens, arugula, Swiss chard, carrots and radicchio.