Southwest Michigan vegetable update – April 29, 2020

Field preparation and planting begins despite cool temperatures and rain.


The 50 degrees Fahrenheit degree-day units are at 85 for 2020 compared to 101 for 2019 and 141 for the five-year average. This makes 2020 the second coolest year out of the past five. It has rained 18 out of the past 29 days; thankfully, most rains have been light. We are currently about 1 inch behind 2019 in rainfall and just slightly behind the five-year average. Rain on April 29 will probably close that gap.

Field activities

Fortunately, rain has not been significant enough most days to seriously delay field preparation and what little planting has taken place. Many fields have been plowed and made ready. Some plastic has been laid.

Crop reports

General asparagus harvest is seven to 10 days away. There may be some scattered harvest this weekend.

Early cabbage, broccoli, turnips, spinach and lettuce have been planted. Many growers have also set out sweet onion transplants.

Early plantings of sweet corn and peas are just emerging. Some producers have also made their second planting of sweet corn.

Potato planting is near 50% with no emergence at this time.

Cool, cloudy weather has given some greenhouse vegetable producers problems. It is often difficult to judge water needs under these conditions, especially with transplants. Needs vary depending on light, temperature, plant stage, media and other parameters. What I tell transplant producers is that if the flat feels light, water it. If it feels heavy, don’t water it. Overwatering is a common problem under these conditions and it is hard for many growers to understand that it may be two days between watering.

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