East Michigan fruit regional report – April 12, 2016

With warmer weather predicted for later in the week, fruit growth will get moving again after two weeks of standing still.


Our season remains ahead of normal by almost a week for growing degree days base 42, but understand that we were almost two weeks ahead of normal following the warm weather March 7-12, and again around Easter time. Our season is not even close to the record-setting early season of 2012.

We had some cold morning temperatures a week ago Sunday (April 3) and the following Tuesday (April 5) that were close to causing damage to fruit flower buds. Most reports from fruit growers shared they had low temperatures in the mid- to upper teens. Apricots were the only fruit crop to see significant damage to flower buds. The more advanced apricot buds were at the first white to first bloom stage; these were hurt badly. Most of the buds that were delayed in their growth seem to be in good shape. I have seen limited damage in sweet and tart cherries. More details on clod damage follow in the fruit crop section of this report.

Our season has been very wet over the last month. Most of our soils are wet to saturated. While most growers have been able to wrap up dormant pruning operations, most are waiting for soils to dry for bush chopping to occur.

East Michigan growing degree day totals for March 1 to April 12, 2016





Commerce (Oakland County)




Deerfield (Monroe County)




Emmett (St Clair County)




Flint (Genesee County)




Freeland (Saginaw County)




Lapeer (Lapeer County)




Pigeon (Huron County)




Romeo (Macomb County)




Tree fruits

Apples are mostly at green tip in the southern tier of counties and early varieties, like Ida Red, are at green tip in other parts of the region. With predicted warm temperatures are expected this weekend, April 16-17, I think growth will move along fairly quickly.

We have had several apple scab wetting events over the last few weeks, and most orchards have had one or two infection periods. We have also had limited apple scab spore discharge with most of these wetting events. The real question grower’s minds is, “Is there enough growth to warrant an apple scab cover spray?” I have been responding with, “Yes, if there is green tissue then you need to cover.”

A few growers had very active fire blight issues last season. These growers have been actively scouring their apple blocks for fire blight cankers.

Pears are at bud swell. Pear psylla adults have been flying when warm temperatures have occurred.

Peaches are mostly at swollen bud. Based on limited observations from the few peach trees that survived the harsh winters of 2014 and 2015, it appears we have a nice crop of buds coming along this year.

Sweet cherries are at bud swell. I was surprised I did not find more cold damage to sweet cherries from last week’s cold temperatures.

Tart cherries are at green tip. I found around a quarter of the buds I cut had partial loss of some of the flower buds.

Plum buds are still tight for European types and green tip for Japanese types. I found some cold temperature damage to the Japanese types.

Small fruits

Grapes are still dormant or very early bud swell.

Strawberry leaves continue to slowly emerge from the crown. I have not seen any fields where the leaves are poking through the straw. Most fields still have the straw on them. As soils begin to dry out, straw can be removed any day now.

Raspberries are still dormant.

Blueberries are at bud swell for most varieties, with early varieties at bud burst. I did not find any cold damage in blueberries. 

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