East Michigan fruit regional report – April 26, 2016

Our growing season is ahead of normal for most areas of east Michigan, except for fruit farms close to Lakes Huron and Erie.


With each stretch of warm temperatures, our season continues to rapidly advance our growth stages. Most growers are close to a week ahead of normal, with the exception for growers close to Lake Erie or Lake Huron.

Every spring is unique in terms of weather patterns that impact the growth and development of our fruit crops. It has been my observation over the years that in springs like this one, where we have a fair amount of early heat, that when we get warmer temperatures later in spring we get rapid growth. The old saying that “it is hard to stop a moving train” fits well in these early springs.

Depending on location, we had one or two cold events this last week that caused frost fans to turn on for tree fruit and strawberry growers that needed to frost-protect emerging flower blossoms. These cold mornings were Saturday and Sunday, April 23-24. Low temperatures were mostly in the lower 30s, but some growers reported low temperatures in the upper 20s. These low temperatures in the upper 20s were very close to being cold enough to cause some damage to flower buds.

We have had several days with temperatures warm enough for good activity of honeybees, bumble bees and native bees. Lets hope for some good warm days when apples are in bloom.

I am continuing to find some cold damage to sweet and tart cherry, Japanese plum and apricot flower buds from cold earlier in the season and on the mornings of April 3 and 5. Most reports from fruit growers stated they had low temperatures in the mid- to upper teens. While apricots were hardest hit, even there I am finding a good number of flowers as they are now at petal fall or in the shuck.

Pheromone disruption ties are being hung this week at many farms.

Two weeks ago our soils were wet to saturated. With the warmer temperatures and windy days, it was amazing to see how quickly our soils have dried. As of yesterday afternoon, April 25, before thunderstorms moved over the region, only a few tenths of an inch of rain occurred in the last two weeks, and as a result our soils were unusually dry for this time in spring. Most of the region received around a half-inch of badly needed rain overnight. Planting of tree and small fruits has been very active these past two weeks, and most planting in now complete.

East Michigan growing degree day totals for March 1 to April 25, 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 pink to early bloom in the southern parts of our region to end of tight cluster to first pink in the rest of the region. Farms closer to Lake Huron and Lake Erie are much further behind.

Oriental fruit moth trap catch is starting to be seen. Spotted tentiform leafminer adult trap catch was much higher this week than last week, as is redbanded leafroller trap catch. I have had some calls from apple growers in the last week letting me know they have caught a good number of codling moths, some enough to biofix. I believe this catch is some leftover adults from last season that lived over the mild winter. This happens about one in every six to eight springs. Some of this adult trap catch could also be what I call false codling moth or “lookalikes.”

Apple scab spore discharge has jumped up dramatically in the two wetting events this past week. Currently, all of our MSU Enviro-weather stations in the region are recording an ongoing apple scab wetting event. Check the Enviro-weather website later today, April 26, to see if this wetting event turns into an infection event.

With bloom time coming quickly, apple growers will need to concerned about fire blight infections. Enviro-weather has a great tool in determining fire blight infection events. Growers need to be on the lookout for oozing fire blight cankers where it was a problem last season.

Pears are at the end of tight cluster to first white. Pear psylla adults continue to fly in greater numbers with warmer temperatures.

Peaches are at first bloom for some varieties and full bloom for others. Oriental fruit moth trap catch is starting to be seen. Most growers are finishing up pruning peaches.

Sweet cherries are at first bloom to full bloom for later varieties. I am finding some cold damage on flower buds.

Tart cherries are at first white. I am finding about a quarter of the flower buds lost from cold damage.

Plums are at first bloom for European types and early petal fall for Japanese types. I am finding some cold temperature damage to flower buds in Japanese plums.

Small fruits

Grapes are still at bud swell for Concord and European varieties.

Strawberry leaves continue emerging, and late last week I started to see flower trusses emerge from the crown. Some strawberry growers frost-protected on Saturday or Sunday morning, April 23-24. Most strawberry fields are in need of rainfall or irrigation as soils are dry.

Raspberry leaves continue emerging from the bud for summer fruiting types and new canes continue emerging from the ground in fall raspberries. The longest canes are 2-3 inches long.

Blueberries are at tight cluster for most varieties, with early varieties at very early pink bud.

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