Southeast Michigan vegetable update – May 29, 2019

Over 50% of May’s days have had measurable precipitation, and the wet, cool weather is impacting all crops.

Wilting plant suffering from transplant shock
Cool soils have led to wilting plants suffering from transplant shock. Photo by Marissa Schuh, MSU Extension.


Yet another low-pressure system is set to move in today, May 29, and tomorrow, with more rain likely in our area tonight and tomorrow morning (the closer you are to the Ohio border, the higher the likelihood). The next weather system we are set to get is coming out of the Northeast. This will mean a chance of light rain early in the weekend and cool weather. This weather system will likely hold until the middle of next week, and the lack of movement will mean a lower chance of rain! Looking to June, weather models are suggesting the month will be drier than normal and a cooler than normal.

This season has been cold across much of the state. The main factor behind this is cloudiness. We have had few sunny days, which has led to cool air temperatures and soils, which have slowed plant germination and growth. These conditions have also led to some preemergent herbicide injury.

The table below shows rainfall totals for the Michigan State University Enviroweather stations in southeast Michigan, as well as degree-days calculated using the Baskerville-Emin Method. Degree-day average for Commerce and Hudson is over five years, while Deerfield is over two years. Soil temperature range in Fahrenheit at 2-inch soil depth over the last week, and rainfall is in inches, with number in parenthesis indicating rainfall since the last report. For a refresher on degree-days and how to get this information in your area, see “Accessing growing degree days with Enviro-weather” from MSU Extension.

Rainfall and degree day totals as of May 29


Degree days (base 42)

Degree days (base 50)

Five-year degree day average (base 50)

Soil temperature range

Rainfall since April 1






7.38 (+1.07)






8.49 (+1.99)






7.58 (+1.39)

General information

There are many fields where the plants are small and the weeds are outgrowing them, and action is need. The options vary by crop. See the 2019 Weed Control Guide for Vegetable Crops, or contact me and we can hash out options.

Crop reports

Cole crop planting continues, and older plantings are being sidedressed. Plants in the low points of many fields are stunted, but those on high spots are growing well. Diamondback moth and imported cabbage worm are feeding in some fields. We are still in peak cabbage maggot flight, though based on information from the Deerfield Enviroweather station, it should wrap up in 57 base 43 degree days (Friday or Saturday).

Cucumbers on bare ground and black plastic are going out. The MSU Vegetable Pathology Lab has placed their downy mildew spore trap in our region; I will give updates on spore counts as the season progresses.

Peppers continue to go in on black plastic.

Potato growers should keep an eye out for volunteer potatoes.

Pumpkin planting has not yet started. Rye cover crops will slow field drying and preparation.

Sweet corn plantings have up to six leaves, plantings on black plastic have one or two more.

Processing and staked tomato planting continues as the weather allows. I have not observed any black cutworms feeding in processing tomatoes, though I did find a pair of Colorado potato beetles.

I’ve seen a fair amount of transplant shock in tomato transplants going in on black plastic. Transplant shock can be caused by inadequate hardening off and by weather conditions, mainly cool, cloudy weather. Soils are cool, and the lack of sun means that even under black plastic soils, temperatures are lower than what is typical at transplanting. Some plastic laid during inopportune times is not tightly laid or has been laid on chunky soil, both of which can slow heat accumulation under plastic. Tomato roots do not grow quickly in cool soil, leading plants to lose water and wilt. Wind is another factor, as it can cause heat loss on plastic and cause leaves to lose water. In the plantings I have been in, the growing points look healthy, so things should turn around.


If you haven’t been able to plant your field crops this year and want to learn more about prevent-plant insurance, the MSU Extension fields crops team has a Virtual Breakfast at 7 a.m. on Thursday, May 30, on the topic. For more information on how to participate, see the Virtual Breakfast webpage

The final Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training until next fall will be held in South Haven, Michigan, on June 4. This training is required for FSMA compliance (at least one person per farm must take it), and a prerequisite for scheduling an On Farm Readiness Review. Registration is open at the event page.

East Michigan fruit educator Bob Tritten is working to organize a meeting on strawberries before harvest starts, keep your eyes on this space for updates.

Mark your calendar! The 2019 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market EXPO is scheduled for Dec. 10-12 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Reach out

Contact me at or 517-264-5309 to schedule a farm visit or ask a question.

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