East Michigan fruit crop update

It’s late April and the season seems more autumnal than spring like.


The feel of this year’s spring seems to be more like autumn than our typical spring. Our season is running further behind normal than even a week ago, we are at least two weeks behind normal when I compare degree days to our 30-year averages and about ten days when I look at the phenology or growth stages of our fruit trees. I have said over the last few weeks that once we get some warm weather that fruit bud development will happen very quickly. It doesn’t seem like that has happened up until this time. When I compare the degree day totals to a 30-year average (using degree base 50), most weather stations have only accumulated about a third to a half of normal accumulations. We have not had any freeze events yet.

Our soils are still running on the wet side. A few growers got started planting tree and small fruits the week before last, but that came to a halt with some more intense rainfalls that we have had over the last week.

Growers are now pruning stone fruits, and are anxious to get back to planting. Fruit growers who keep bees have had high colony mortality over the winter.

Southeast Michigan Growing Degree Day Totals for March 1 to April 26
Location GDD42 GDD45 GDD50
Commerce (Oakland) 128 88 48
Emmett (St Clair) 116 79 43
Flint (Genesee) 139 96 53
Lapeer (Lapeer) 132 92 52
Petersburg (Monroe) 170 120 67
Pigeon (Huron) 93 63 34
Romeo (Macomb) 121 83 46

Tree fruits

Apples are mostly at mouse ear in the southern part of the region, in the Flint area at green tip (Idareds at mouse ear), and to the north still at bud swell to early silver tip.

I have seen some low levels of insect activity beginning to take place in apples. There were a total of 6 redbanded leafrollers caught in traps over the last week. A very few spotted tentiform leafminer adults are now starting to fly. I have not caught any oriental fruit moth in traps as of yet.

Most reporting stations have received enough rainfall over the last two weeks to have one apple scab wetting period; some have had three for the season. I am catching a low number of apple scab spores with each wetting event. Some growers are making a second application of copper for the season.

Pears are at bud swell to bud burst. I continue to see just a few pear psylla adults flying.

Peaches are at bud burst (also called green calyx) on early flowering varieties and bud burst for most varieties.

Sweet cherries are at side green to bud burst, with just a tiny bit of green tissue beginning to show in a few early varieties.

Tart cherries are at side green with no green tissue exposed as of yet. Tart cherries have moved along fairly well over the last week.

Plums are mostly at green tissue for Asian types and at swollen bud for European types.

Small fruits

Strawberries have put on new leaf growth over the last week. I would say that rows are not filling out well at this time, but there is evidence of growth taking place. Just about all the straw has been removed from strawberries across the region.

Raspberries are at green tip for summer fruiting types. Fall bearing raspberries continue to emerge from the soil at a slow pace. I continue to see a fair amount of winter kill in the tips of canes on summer red and black raspberries, as well as blackberries.

Blueberries are at bud burst for early varieties and most continue to be at swollen bud, leaf bud break is very close. Mummy berry mummies have been seen at several farms over the last week.

Grapes are at early bud swell for Concord types. French hybrid grapes are continuing to show winter kill to most of the canes. I am waiting to see when or if buds begin to break at the base of the vines.

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