Southeast Michigan vegetable update – April 25, 2018

After a cold and long winter, it finally feels like spring has arrived in our region.


This last winter was colder than normal, and only in the last week has it felt like winter has actually ended for good. We will have to see where the month ends, but this may be one of the coldest Aprils on record. The Michigan State University Deerfield Enviroweather station suggests we are over 50 growing degree-days (GDD) behind the average. Many fields haven’t been worked yet and most growers are behind in field activities and planting. Things will likely stay cool through this week’s end, but conditions will change as we move into next week, with warm air moving in and hotter than normal temperatures (think 70s and maybe 80s) on deck.

The table below shows rainfall totals for the MSU 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 and rainfall is in inches. 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 GDD totals as of April 25, 2018


GDD base 42

GDD base 50

GDD average base 50

Soil temperature range

Rainfall since April 1 (inches)



















General information

With the acres of genetically modified soybeans resistant to dicamba likely increasing this year, all specialty crop growers with more the 0.5 acres in production should register for Driftwatch. One of the requirements for dicamba applicators is they check neighboring fields for dicamba-susceptible crops either with an online registry or with a visual survey. Registration with Driftwatch can help reduce the chances your crop is exposed to dicamba drift, which most vegetable crops are sensitive to even in small amounts. The map itself as well as a link for new submissions can be found at Driftwatch.

Growers with greenhouses for producing transplants or growing vegetables have a new resource for navigating what pesticides they’re allowed to use in their facility. The MSU Extension article “Vegetable pesticide series: Can I use it in the greenhouse?” details label language for hundreds of pesticides summarized in a manageable table. Always check the label of the product at hand, but this can be a database to tap when you’re figuring out if anything in your chemistry shed can be used inside for whatever problem you’re seeing.

Another good resource as the season picks up deals with the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) respirator rules. Similar to the article above, “Vegetable pesticide series: Does it require a respirator?” includes a table that details where many pesticide labels stand on respirator usage.


Cole crops have gone in as conditions have allowed and continue to be planted. Broccoli and kale have been transplanted on some operations. Cabbage is going in as weather and field conditions allow; cabbage that went in before last week’s cold and icy conditions came through it alright. Enviroweather’s cabbage maggot model for Deerfield is predicting adult emergence beginning at 203 GDDs, and is predicting that one week from now we will be at 171 GDDs. This suggests cabbage maggot emergence will likely begin mid- to late next week. For more information on cabbage maggot, see “Early-emerging cabbage maggot mows down and tunnels through roots of cole crops” from MSU Extension.

Cole crop growers are encouraged to complete a research survey on swede midge. Swede midge is a new invasive pest that can cause deformed leaves, scarred stems and lack of head formation across cole crops. Damage from this pest last year was present in small amounts on most farms I visited. Your participation in this Swede Midge Management Survey can help researchers stay on top of this new invasive pest.

Garlic has emerged.

Onions have been planted on some farms.

Pepper and tomato transplants have been planted over the course of the last month. See “Vegetable pesticide series: Can I use it in the greenhouse?” for information on what pesticides you’re allowed to use in your facility.

Transplant growers should have their eye out for diseases, especially as the weather changes. In the ornamental world, this season’s cool, wet conditions have led to issues with botrytis, and it wouldn’t be surprising if this cropped up in vegetable transplants. As things get warmer next week, make sure you are on top of your disease programs. Bacterial spot in tomato has become more prevalent in Michigan, and the copper-resistant strain is becoming more common; streptomycin can be used in aide in control.

Sweet corn planting will begin soon. Enviroweather’s seedcorn maggot model for Deerfield suggests pests will begin flying April 27. Seeds treated with Cruiser or Poncho should provide some level of protection, but this pest can be a problem as long as soil temperatures are below 70 F. If you are planting sweet corn or cucurbits, be mindful of this pest—the cold soil means slower germination and more time for a maggot to find its way to your seed.

Contact me at any time with questions at 517-264-5309 or I tweet about what I’m seeing @SoutheastMIVeg. Note that my cell phone is registered to a Minnesota (763) area code.


The 2018 MSU Weed Day is tentatively scheduled for June 27 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on MSU’s campus. For more information, see Weeds Day 2018.

Have you ever wondered how MSU gets their fruit and vegetable recommendations? Learn more about vegetable research and management June 28 during the Agriculture Innovation Day: Focus on Fruit and Vegetable Technologies. This year’s event is at the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center in Benton Harbor, Michigan. For more details, see “MSU Agriculture Innovation Day: Focus on Fruit and Vegetable Technologies.”

It is never too early to make accommodations to attend Great Lakes Fruit and Vegetable EXPO, Dec. 4-6 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Hotel blocks are open and tend to go fast. The combination of grower-focused, research-backed presentations and an exhibit hall featuring a diverse set of vendors make it a can’t-miss event. 

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