Michigan Vegetable Industry Research and Extension Priorities

Submitted by:
Michigan Vegetable Council
P.O. Box 277, Erie, MI 48133
734-848-8899 (phone and fax)
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    The Michigan Vegetable Council’s Research and Extension Priorities for Vegetable Crops

    Control of Soilborne and Foliar Diseases through Predictive Modeling, Crop Rotations, Chemical and Biological Controls

    • Phytophthora capsici: Many vegetable crops, including all vine crops, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and snap beans, are susceptible to phytophthora capsici. Once in a field, this disease persists even when non-susceptible crops are part of a rotation.
    • Other soilborne diseases: Fusarium, rhizoctonia and pythium can impact the yield and quality of many vegetable crops if not controlled.
    • Cucurbit downy mildew: Downy mildew has been a significant problem in Michigan every year since 2005. Pickling and slicing cucumbers have been the crops most impacted, but all cucurbit crops are susceptible. In 2014, the disease showed resistance to some materials that had previously been effective. Given this development and the already high cost of control, downy mildew threatens the future of Michigan’s pickle industry.
    • Bacterial diseases: This disease threat is difficult to control once established in a field and can cause significant economic losses. Infections may occur through contaminated seed, in the greenhouse with seedlings and in the field. 

    Research and education to help growers manage these and other disease threats are vitally important to Michigan’s vegetable industry. Longer term, varietal resistance to these diseases is needed.

    Control of Insect Pests through Predictive Modeling, Crop Rotations, Chemical and Biological Controls

    A wide array of insect pests attack every major vegetable crop raised in Michigan. Areas of special interest or concern are:

    • Predictive modeling: Predictive models that can be incorporated into the MSU Enviroweather system to help growers time control measures.
    • Insecticide resistance: Insecticide timing and rotation is critically important to maintain the viability of EPA registered products.
    • Invasive species: A rapid understanding of the biology, distribution and control of invasive insect pests such as Brown Marmorated Stick Bug or others.
    • Chemical controls: Testing and registration of new chemical controls with low impacts on the environment and beneficial insects.
    • Cultural and biological controls: Improved understanding of the effect of crop rotations, cultural practices and beneficial insects on pest populations.
    • Nematodes: Improved understanding of species present, distribution and control.

    Improved Horticultural and Sustainable Practices

    • Varieties: Development and testing of varieties for pest resistance or tolerance, higher yields and marketability.
    • Nutrients: Improved nutrient management to reduce costs, improve yield and quality and reduce runoff or leaching.
    • Cover crops and rotations: Develop practices that will improve nutrient cycling, reduce pests and control erosion.

    Improved Soil Health Management Information and Practices

    Soil impairment is a limiting factor in crop productivity. Inputs including technological innovations may boost yields relative to past performance, but if the soil is not in optimal condition, stress on the plants exacts a toll. Growers are aware of this relationship and are increasingly seeking soil analyses to determine precise data for representative fields. However, the biodynamics within the organic portion of the soil are still not adequately understood, and soil management suffers as a result. Many growers now perceive a need for a stronger grower-university partnership to expand soil research and demonstration projects applicable to the broad spectrum of vegetable crops grown in Michigan. 

    Efficient Use of Overhead and Drip Irrigation

    Irrigation is essential for growing many high value vegetable crops. Growers need to use irrigation efficiently, both to maximize the benefits to crop yields and quality and to be good stewards of this resource. The effective understanding and use of fertigation and chemigation can also be beneficial to marketable yields and costs.

    Production and Marketing of Safe Food

    The production and marketing of safe food is important to both consumers and producers. Food safety problems impact all growers of the affected crop. Growers will need to practice production and handling practices to help assure a safe food supply and to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act.

    UPDATED: August 2015



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