East Michigan fruit update – April 14, 2020

Cold temperatures over the last week have slowed growth of flower and leaf buds in all fruit crops.


Much cooler temperatures over the last week have stopped or slowed down the spring green up of most fruit crops. Our season is running about normal in terms of growth stages and degree day totals for most fruit crops at our Michigan State University Enviroweather stations in east Michigan. This can shift around quickly in springtime, however. The one exception to the season running about normal in terms of growth is for the Genesee County area, where growth there has jumped to be a few days ahead of normal. It appears that this cold weather will continue through the end of April.

Cooler nighttime and morning temperatures are predicated for the next three mornings. Low temperatures are predicated to be in the mid-20s. There are no inversion layers expected with warmer air aloft, so frost fans will not help protect flower buds from cold damage. Cold air is flowing through Canada from the North Pole. This will slow growth down considerably. Peach and sweet cherry flower buds are vulnerable to potential cold temperature damage at this time.

Sod in orchards has greened up nicely in the last week. Soils are unusually dry for this time of spring at most farms. Planting of tree and small fruit crops continues. Herbicide applications continue to be made in most fruit crops. Pruning continues in many fruit crops.

East Michigan growing degree day totals (GDD) for March 1 to April 13, 2020





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

Apple growth has moved very slowly over the last week to most being at tight cluster as of yesterday afternoon, April 13, with a few apple varieties still being at half-inch green. Some late season varieties, like Northern Spy, are still at silver tip. Most growers have been seeing a good crop of flower buds developing. A few growers have made their first copper application to control early apple scab, most are waiting until the current cold snap ends to make this first copper application. Horticultural oil applications are being planned for San Jose scale control early to mid-next week. Growers are continuing to prune apples with a good amount of brush chopping being done as well.

Pears are at blossom buds exposed stage of growth.

Peaches are mostly at calyx red stage of growth. Peaches have a good amount of flower buds with little to no bud and twig winter dieback. Cold temperatures predicted over the next few mornings could damage some flower buds.

Sweet cherries are at side green to early green tip. Flower buds appear to be in good shape so far this spring in terms of little to no winter injury. Cold temperatures predicted over the next few mornings could damage some flower buds.

Tart cherries are at side green with a good crop of buds coming along so far.

Plums are at green tip for European varieties with Japanese varieties at tight cluster with no white showing.

Small fruits

Strawberry leaves are continuing to emerge from the crown. The leaves are still small but have greened up the last week. No flower buds have emerged. Winter annual weeds and grasses have greened up and are growing well in strawberries. For the second week in a row, I would wait to remove straw mulch until the predicted upcoming colder temperatures are behind us.

Raspberry leaves are emerging from the bud on some early summer red raspberry varieties, other varieties are at late bud swell. Canes continue to slowly emerge from the soil for fall bearing raspberries, most are less than an inch in length.

Blueberries are at bud swell to bud break. Pruning continues in blueberries.

Saskatoons are at pink to early white tip with an excellent crop of flower buds coming along.

Grapes are unchanged this week still being at bud swell.

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