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Issues Of The Environment: Wet Weather, Climate Change, And Its Impact On Michigan Agriculture

Aug 5, 2015

A cool wet spring  is having an impact on Michigan's Agricultural sector and in your home gardens. David Fair delves further into the impacts with MSU Extension Services Agriculture Educator ben Phillips in this week's 'Issues of the Environment.'

  

  Overview

Early in the growing season of 2015 southeast Michigan saw cooler, wetter weather than average, impacting yields later in the season for farmers and home gardeners.

Downy mildew and late blight are two virulent, common diseases that spread and flourish in wet, cloudy conditions.

From Ben Phillips:

"I can tell you that the wet, cool, and cloudy weather has slowed down the growth of all of our warm weather vegetables including watermelons, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers. It has also presented the perfect environment for spreading two of the most devastating vegetable diseases in our region: downy mildews in cucumbers, melons, hops, and onions; and late blight in tomatoes and potatoes. Both come on hard and fast, and leave home gardeners bewildered. Commercial growers struggle to stay on top of them in bad years.

As of writing this, downy mildew in Michigan cucumbers (our biggest vegetable by acreage) has only been confirmed in Monroe county. The disease isn’t thought to overwinter here, and blows in every year. Some years are worse than others. This year could be a bad one if conditions don't dry out before the disease takes hold in the main cucumber regions of SE MI and the Bay.

Late blight has not been found in Michigan yet, but has been confirmed in Wisconsin and North Carolina. This one can overwinter in Michigan on volunteer potato tubers and become a source for the disease if they aren’t destroyed. Last year was a bad late blight year, and we have been stressing to growers to destroy any potatoes that have sprouted from missed potatoes in last year’s fields, and cull potatoes on field edges or in rock piles. This disease will also blow around and jump to tomatoes downwind

David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on 89.1 WEMU. Contact : 734-487-2229,  dfair@emich.edu, or on Twitter @DavidFairWEMU