East Michigan fruit regional report – April 16, 2013

Spring seems to be in a long holding pattern for east Michigan fruit growers.


The slow, spring warm-up of the 2013 growing season has continued over the last two weeks. Our growing degree day totals are about a third of normal accumulations, and only about 10 percent of where we were at in our very early spring of last year.

Most of the flower buds of both tree and small fruits have continued to swell, but have not moved very far. I have not seen any green tissue on any fruit crops as of late yesterday afternoon. I feel that when we get a sustained warming trend, our spring will rapidly pick up the pace. More specifically, the first warm rain of the season will bring on a quick onset of flower and leaf bud development. I expect to see first green tissue in apples late this weekend or early next week.

Almost all areas have had good amounts of rainfall over the last week, with many areas receiving three to four inches. Our soil moisture supplies are at field capacity. I have only heard of one fruit grower with soils dry enough to plant tree or small fruits. So, most growers are anxious to get started planting this year. With the prediction of more rain starting on Wednesday (April 17) and running through Friday of this week, planting will be on hold even longer. Wet soils have also prevented brush chopping or removal at many orchards. 

East Michigan Growing Degree Day Totals
for March 1 to April 16, 2013





Commerce (Oakland)




Emmett (St Clair)




Flint (Genesee)




Lapeer (Lapeer)




Petersburg (Monroe)




Pigeon (Huron)




Romeo (Macomb)




Tree fruits

Apples are mostly at swollen bud with Idared at silver tip. Again, I expect to see first green tissue in apples late this weekend or early next week. Growers are considering beginning either dormant oil or copper applications when the right weather conditions are forecast and orchard soils dry up a bit.

Pears are at swollen bud. I saw my first pear psylla adults flying late yesterday afternoon.

Peaches are at swollen bud. Most growers have made their peach leaf curl control sprays in the last week. In examining the flower buds that I have forced in the last few weeks, I have found survival of flower buds to be very good this season. Growers continue to prune peaches.

Sweet and tart cherries are at swollen bud.

Plums are mostly at swollen bud with Japanese plum flower buds almost ready to pop open.

Small fruits

Strawberry leaves are slowly emerging from the crown. About half of east Michigan strawberry growers have removed their straw mulch and for those that have, a few new leaves are emerging. Where straw is still on the bed, soil temperatures have remained very cold and thus have little to no new leaf emergence. Most growers are planning to remove the straw as soon as soils dry a bit.

Raspberries are at bud swell with no green tissue for summer bearing types. Most of the few canes of fall bearing types that had emerged from the soil have been frosted back from recent cold temperatures.

Blueberries flower buds are swollen and the scales are almost ready to burst open. Most growers have made good progress on pruning in the last few weeks.

Grapes remain dormant.

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