Michigan officials get to root of odor: rotting radishes


DELTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A mid-Michigan community solved an olfactory mystery that could be dubbed “The Case of the Rancid Radishes.”

Residents called officials in Delta Township last month, concerned about a smell they thought might be natural gas or sewer leaks. Township Manager Brian Reed and his staff got to the, well, root of the problem: rotting radishes in nearby farm fields, the Lansing State Journal reported.

To be more precise, it was the unseemly smell of decomposing daikon radishes, a Japanese root vegetable. They had been planted in fields in the township and surrounding areas as a cover crop after a wet spring.

The radish variety is among those recommended by natural resources officials to plant during such periods — not to harvest but to decompose in a bid to nourish the soil, aerate it and prevent erosion.

Decompose they did, and when temperatures rose in December the scent permeated the air.

“All these cover crops did their job beautifully for saving the soil and increasing organic matter in the soil and keeping the nutrients in place so they don’t leach out,” said Dave Edwards, a local farmer who normally plants 1,600 acres of corn but was limited to 170 acres last spring because of the heavy precipitation.

The stench should subside with consistently colder weather. In the meantime, Edwards said, the radish gambit “was a great opportunity — other than the smell.”