Southwest Michigan vegetable update – Sept. 4, 2019
The growing season is coming to an end, but other activities will begin.
The 50-degree Fahrenheit degree-day units are at 2,229 for 2019 compared to 2,544 for 2018 and 2,452 for the five-year average. This is a significant departure from normal and may possibly lead to late harvests on fall squash and pumpkins and fewer harvests on peppers and tomatoes. However, the larger effect will be on perennial fruit crops.
We had variable rainfall across the area ranging from 0.5 to 1 inch. Temperatures ranged from 71 F to 84 F for highs and 49 F to 67 F for lows. Generally, good weather has allowed harvest activities to continue with little problems.
Production in many fields has ceased. As time allows, growers are beginning to do post-season activities such as removing stakes and ties from early tomatoes, plastic mulch and drip tape, and getting fields ready for fall cover crop planting.
Cool temperatures and lower light levels will begin to affect crop development and quality. For some reason, September eggplant generally has more scars and blemishes and cantaloupe begins to lose its netting (see photos).
Vine crop producers still need to be diligent in their downy and powdery mildew control. This is especially true on pumpkins that still have a significant amount of green fruit. If the fruit has colored and the leaves are beginning to die, it is best to harvest and get them out of the direct sunlight. Without adequate leaf cover, fruit run the risk of sunburn and then breaking down later in the season. Therefore, it is best to get them under cover if you can.
Bacterial diseases of pepper and especially tomato are becoming worse, which has led to many fields being abandoned.