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Northern Michigan Farmers Start to Worry About Early Frost
Michigan Ag Connection - 09/12/2017

There were 5.6 days suitable for fieldwork in Michigan during the week ending Sunday, according to Marlo Johnson, director of the Great Lakes Regional Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Cold, dry weather this past week slowed crop maturity and was the cause of crop stress in some southern Michigan locations. Some producers in northern Michigan were concerned about frost damage to late maturing crops.

Corn was starting to dent in the Upper Peninsula while ears were drying down and starting to turn downward in southern Michigan. Some corn silage chopping and seed corn harvesting began, but many producers were waiting for the sun and heat to help the corn ripen and assist the dry down process. Soybeans were starting to turn color and full scale dry bean harvest was projected to begin soon. Sugarbeet harvest began, while hay harvest was still underway. Dry conditions in some southern counties limited hay and pasture regrowth. Other fieldwork activities included hauling straw, repairing equipment, and working on tillage operations.

Dry weather has allowed apple harvest pace to ramp up with growers picking McIntosh, Gala, and some Honeycrisp. Cooler nighttime temperatures have been beneficial for color development, but fruit size, maturity, and crop loads were reported to be variable due to the long bloom period in the spring, damage caused by the May 8 freeze, and prevailing dry summer weather. Peach harvest was complete in the East, except for a few growers with late varieties, while late season peach harvest continued in the Southwest; fruit color and quality were reported to be good, with dry weather enhancing sweetness. Plum harvest continued for European types; flavor was reported to be generally good this year. Harrow Sweet pear harvest was finishing up in the Southwest, and bramble harvest continued for fall red raspberries, fall black raspberries, and blackberries. Blueberry harvest was complete in all but northern growing areas; lack of recent significant rainfall triggered the need for supplemental irrigation in fields yet to be harvested. In grapes, fruit clusters continued to fill out, with veraison complete in all varieties. Harvest of early wine grape varieties has begun; Niagara grape harvest was expected to begin September 18.

Pickling cucumber harvest continued in the Eastern region. Latest plantings of watermelon and cantaloupes were setting fruit as the growing season began to wind down. In the Southeastern region carrot, pepper, and sweet corn harvest was ongoing. Harvest of winter squash and early season pumpkins had started as well. Processing carrot harvest in the West was anticipated to begin soon. Potato harvest was ongoing in the Southwest as weather allowed. Late blight (Phytophthora infestans) was found in Montcalm County potatoes on August 22, 2017. Growers are encouraged to be vigilant in preventative scouting and spraying activities.

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