East Michigan fruit update – April 21, 2020

Cool temperatures have slowed fruit growth stages over the past week. Recent freezing temperatures damaged some sweet cherry flower buds.

Weather

Cold temperatures over the last week have continued to slow down the spring green up of most fruit crops. Temperatures were a replay of last week. Daily temperatures were an average of 8 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit below normal. Our season is dropped back to now running behind normal by three to five days 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. It appears that this cold weather will continue through the end of April.

Cold nighttime and morning temperatures occurred last Thursday morning, April 16, for most of our region. The coldest temperatures I heard from a few growers were 19 to 20 F. Most temperatures that morning were in the mid-20s. There was some damage to sweet cherry flower buds, more details follow in that section of today’s report.

Soils continue to be 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 for March 1 to April 20, 2020

Location

GDD42

GDD45

GDD50

Commerce (Oakland County)

134

85

35

Deerfield (Monroe County)

187

127

64

Emmett (St Clair County)

131

80

32

Flint (Genesee County)

168

110

46

Freeland (Saginaw County)

122

75

28

Lapeer (Lapeer County)

153

99

43

Pigeon (Huron County)

98

57

19

Romeo (Macomb County)

142

88

35

Tree fruits

Apple growth stages have moved only slightly in the past week, most are still at tight cluster as of yesterday morning, April 20, with a few apple varieties still being at half inch green. Some late season varieties, like Northern Spy, are between silver tip and half-inch green. With last Thursday morning’s cold temperatures, I have checked a good number of apple flower buds since then and can’t see any early signs of cold damage. I don’t think any apple varieties were affected by the cold temperatures. Most growers are seeing a good crop of flower buds in apples.

A few growers have made their first copper application to control early apple scab, most are waiting until more growth and rain to make this first copper application. Horticultural oil applications are still planned for San Jose scale and mite control, but the weather conditions have not allowed these applications. Growers are continuing to prune apples with brush chopping continuing.

Pears are finally starting to see more growth; most are at the blossom buds exposed stage of growth to early tight cluster. I found a few pear psylla adults flying in pears on Monday morning, April 20.

Peaches are still mostly at calyx red stage of growth with no first white showing. With last Thursday morning’s cold temperatures, I have checked a good number of peach flower buds since then and can’t see any early signs of cold damage. I don’t think any peach varieties were affected by the cold temperatures. Most growers are seeing a good crop of flower buds with little to no bud and twig winter dieback.

Sweet cherries are at green tip to tight cluster with no white tip showing. I can find some cold damage from last Thursday morning’s freeze to the most advanced flower buds, but most of the flower buds are still viable. The best way I can describe our sweet cherry crop is that we have gone from a great crop of sweets to a good crop of sweet cherries. Time will tell.

Tart cherries are at green tip to very early tight cluster. In cutting a good number of tart cherry flower buds yesterday, I cannot see any cold or freeze damage. It is a bit early to see the entire picture in tart cherries.

Plums are still at green tip for European varieties with Japanese varieties at tight cluster with no white showing. I cannot see any cold of freeze damage. It is a bit early to see the entire picture in tart cherries.

Small fruits

Strawberry leaves are continuing to emerge from the crown, but the leaves are still small and have greened up even more in the last week. Yesterday morning I found just a few flower buds emerging on early varieties. For the third week in a row, I would wait to remove straw mulch until the predicted upcoming colder temperatures are behind us. No new growth was seen in newly planted strawberries. Winter annual weeds and grasses are growing well in strawberries.

Raspberry growth has also been very slow in the past week, 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 late bud break to early tight cluster. Pruning continues in blueberries.

Saskatoons are at tight cluster to pink tip on a few early flowering varieties. We have an excellent crop of flower buds coming along.

Grapes are unchanged this week and still at bud swell.

Haskaps are at first bloom.

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