East Michigan fruit update – April 16, 2019

With cold nighttime temperatures over the last week, fruit growth and development has been slow.


The overnight accumulating snows of last Thursday morning, April 11, and again on Monday morning, April 15, for fruit growers north of the M-59 corridor were certainly unwelcomed sights. Even though we have had a few warmer days over the past week, with cold nighttime temperatures, fruit growth and growing degree day (GDD) accumulations have been very slow. Tree fruit buds have swollen slightly over the last week, and in McIntosh a few buds are at early green tip. The sod in most orchards has greened up considerably, which is a sign spring is on its way.

Last week at this time our season was roughly three to four days behind normal. This week, we are just about the same or a few days behind normal except for the interior of the Thumb, which is closer to a week behind normal.

Some warmer temperatures are predicted for the next 10 days, with a number of fronts moving through the region that will bring a good amount of rain. This will speed up growth considerably.

Field work is still generally limited due to wet soils. Only a few growers have been able to plant fruit crops in the past week. Most strawberry growers have not removed straw. Growers have been fertilizing, applying herbicides and continuing to prune tree fruits, blueberries and grapes. Our soils are starting to dry to a point where planning will begin soon. I have not heard of any growers spraying yet, but sprayers are generally ready to go for the season.

East Michigan GDD totals for March 1 to April 15, 2019





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 have not moved much in the past week; they are mostly at silver tip with a few buds at early green tip on McIntosh and Idareds. A few redbanded leafrollers and green fruitworms were caught in traps over the last week. I caught my first apple scab spores for the season in traps in the rain on Sunday, but it was too cold for an infection period.

Pears are at bud swell, with just a touch of green showing on bud scales. A few pear psylla adults are visible on pears.

Peaches are at bud swell, with just a touch of green showing on bud scales. Hold off pruning until flower buds become more visible to determine possible crop loss due to cold temperatures this past winter. There is also some signs of cinnamon colored bark in peaches, which is an indication of winter damage.

Sweet cherries are at swollen bud to seeing some green tissue showing through on bud scales. As with peaches, there has been some flower bud damage in sweet cherry this winter.

Tart cherries are at swollen bud to just seeing green tissue on the bud scales. Tart cherries that had heavy cherry leaf spot disease pressure and early leaf drop last season are finding a good amount of finer fruit bearing wood that is dead.

Plums are at bud swell to just a touch of green showing on bud scales for European varieties and bud burst for Japanese varieties.

Small fruits

Strawberry leaves continue to slowly emerge from the crown on early varieties. The soil under straw mulch is still very cold. Most strawberries are still covered with straw mulch, but a few growers are starting to remove straw. Straw removal should begin soon.  

Raspberry canes are starting to emerge from the soil for fall raspberries. Summer raspberries are at green tip on early varieties.

Blueberries are at bud swell with a few varieties seeing green tissue on bud scales. Pruning continues in blueberries.

Grapes are at dormant to early bud swell for concord types and wine grapes are at late bud swell. With low temperatures this winter in the -15 degrees Fahrenheit range, there will be extensive damage in many wine grape varieties.

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