East Michigan fruit update – April 25, 2017

Spring is about a week ahead of normal for most areas of east Michigan, except for fruit farms close to Lakes Huron and Erie.


Warm temperatures have continued to push our season ahead of normal, especially with warm nighttime temperatures. 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 in terms of growth stages, with the exception of growers close to Lake Erie or Lake Huron.

Every spring is unique in terms of weather patterns and soil moisture levels that impact the growth and development of our fruit crops. It has been my observation over the years that in springs like this where we have a fair amount of early warm temperatures, 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.

We did have some cold morning low temperatures over the weekend, with Saturday morning, April 22, being the coldest for most growers. For growers that have orchard frost fans, many clicked on several times overnight on Friday/Saturday morning. Many strawberry growers reported there was a need to frost protect emerging flower blossoms Saturday morning.

We have had several days with temperatures warm enough for good activity of honey bees, bumble bees and native bees. Honey bee overwintering survival rates seem to be good this season. Let’s hope for some good, warm days when apples are in bloom.

I am finding some cold damage in the tops of younger Golden Delicious and its related varieties, mainly with treetops dying. I believe this was caused by mild temperatures in November, followed by sudden cold in mid-December.

Tree and small fruit planting has been taking place for many growers for the last few weeks where soils have dried.

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

Tree fruits

Apples are mostly at pink to early bloom in the southern parts of our region to first pink in the rest of the region. Farms closer to the lakes are much further behind.

Spotted tentiform leafminer adult trap catch is starting, with moderate numbers (50 to 120) caught in traps. Redbanded leafroller trap catch is also taking place. Obliquebanded leafroller larvae are being found in leaf terminals. Oriental fruit moth trap catch is expected in the next few days.

Apple scab spore discharge continues to climb in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area, which is expected for this time of the season. With bloom time coming quickly, apple growers will need to be concerned about fire blight infections. The Michigan State University Enviroweather website has a great tool for determining fire blight infection events. Be on the lookout for oozing fire blight cankers where it was a problem last season.

Pears are at tight cluster to first white. Pear psylla adults are flying in greater numbers with warmer temperatures.

Peaches are at full bloom for most varieties. Oriental fruit moth trap catch is expected any day. Most growers are starting pruning peaches.

Sweet cherries are at full bloom for most varieties.

Tart cherries are at first bloom.

Plums are at full bloom for European types and petal fall for Japanese types.

Small fruits

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

Strawberry leaves are emerging and flower trusses have emerged from the crown. Some strawberry growers frost protected on Saturday morning.

Raspberry leaves are emerging from the bud for summer fruiting varieties. I am seeing some tip dye back from winter injury on summer fruiting raspberries. New canes are emerging from the ground in fall raspberries, with the longest canes being a few inches in length.

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

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