Southwest Michigan vegetable update – June 6, 2018

More normal weather conditions have helped growers get caught up.


Over the past week, highs ranged from 72 to 87 degrees Fahrenheit and lows from 44 to 68 F. The 50 F degree-day units are at 566 for 2018 compared to 605 for 2017 and 579 for the five-year average. The area had variable amounts of rain with the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center receiving 1.5 inches.

Field activity

Field preparation and planting continues for most crops. Many fields still have areas of standing water and saturated areas that need to be avoided.

Crop reports

Asparagus harvest will be finished this week. Many growers are applying herbicides.

Early sweet corn is 18 – 20 inches tall and planting continues. The earliest fields look good while the subsequent one or two plantings have somewhat spotty emergence, probably due to the cool, wet conditions during or shortly after planting.

Early peppers and tomatoes are at first bloom and are being staked and tied. Growers are reporting poor growth and appearance to those pepper fields planted just prior to the heat of Memorial Day weekend. My experience with peppers is that if they receive stress at this early stage from heat, cold or drought, they have difficulty recovering. So these plants may be somewhat stunted for the rest of the season. Additional nitrogen may help.

Tunnel-grown cucumbers are in bloom as are some early, direct seeded zucchini and summer squash.

Early peas are in flower and early potatoes have flower buds showing. Colorado potato beetle adults and eggs can be found, primarily on horse nettles.

Cantaloupe and watermelon are doing well and have begun to grow off the plastic.

Hops are doing well with some plantings having 10 or more feet of growth.

Strawberry harvest has begun. Some fields are experiencing powdery mildew due to the wet spring weather.

Flea and asparagus beetles appear to be the most active insects at this time.

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