East Michigan fruit update – April 23, 2019

Warm temperatures over the last week have finally spurred on growth of fruit crops, as well as a few insects and our first disease control in most tree fruits.


Warm temperatures over the last week helped move forward a good amount of growth of our fruit crops across east Michigan. Of greater influence on growth and development of fruit crops has been the three to four nights with low temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Most of our Michigan State University Enviroweather stations have almost doubled their degree day totals in the last week as well. Our season is now just a few behind normal for both our growth stages and degree day totals.

The second weather related story has been excessive rainfall totals over the region in the last week. Most farms have had received between 1.5 and 2 inches of rain over the last seven days. Many have also seen measurable rainfall six of the last seven days. Field conditions have become very wet, and most growers have made big ruts in the soil in orchards from spraying applications. Little to no tree planting has been accomplished as well, here again due to wet soils.

East Michigan growing degree day (GDD) totals for March 1 to April 22, 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 started to show signs of growth in the last week. Most are at 0.25-inch green to a few of the most advanced buds at 0.5-inch green. I expect that in a week, most will be at tight cluster to first pink. Overall, we have a nice crop of flower buds this season.

I don’t know what to think about Honeycrisp as of this writing, as they are notably a few days behind the growth stage of most other apple varieties this season. They have a strange look to them; they almost have the appearance of showing the early signs of some possible winter injury. I hope by next week at this time they look better.

Redbanded leafroller and green fruitworm trap catch has jumped this past week, mainly due to warmer nighttime temperatures. A few growers have seen San Jose scale hotspots in apple blocks as they have been pruning this winter.

With all the rain the past week, most apple growers have seen two to four apple scab wetting events, and many had their first apple scab infection period of the season. Most have been light to moderate infections, with a few being heavy infections with long wetting periods. Most growers have applied their first fungicide of the season, with many using copper. I continue to catch apple scab spores in each wetting event. Wet spots in orchards have been rutted badly due to heavy rains and the need to spray.

Pears have blossom buds exposed to a few seeing signs of early tight cluster. Pear psylla adults have had heavy flights in the past few days.

Peaches are mostly at the calyx green stage, with a few early varieties being at calyx red, but it is hard to find viable flower buds at most farms. Most flower buds have swollen slightly but have seemed to stop growing. When I try to carefully cut buds to check for winter injury, they frequently fall off in my hand, indicating signs of winter injury. This flower bud damage was caused by cold temperatures in late January. Hold off pruning peaches until flower buds become more visible to determine possible crop loss due to cold temperatures this past winter. There are also some signs of cinnamon colored bark in peaches, which is another indication of winter damage.

Keep an eye on forsythia bloom growing in your area. It should be in full bloom at this time. Most are only showing signs of normal bloom on branches that were covered by snow this winter when we had these low temperatures.

Sweet cherries are at side green to green tip. As with peaches, there has been some flower bud damage in sweet cherry this winter, but it does appear that we have somewhat of a crop of sweet cherries this season. Many growers have applied copper in the last week.

Tart cherries are at side green to green tip, with a few early buds at the beginning of tight cluster. Many growers have applied copper in the last week to tarts cherries as well. 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 side white to green for European varieties and Japanese varieties are at tip green to tight cluster.

Small fruits

Strawberry leaves continue to slowly emerge from the crown on most varieties, especially on berries that had straw removed last week. The soil is still cold, so new growth is slow in strawberries this season.

Raspberry canes are continuing to emerge from the soil for fall raspberries. Summer raspberries have a few expanding leaves from buds growing toward the base of the cane. A few early varieties have new canes emerging from the soil.

Blueberries are at bud swell on most varieties with Jersey being at early tight cluster. Pruning continues in blueberries.

Saskatoons are at tight cluster. I expect to see some bloom later this week.

Grapes are at early bud swell for concord types and wine grapes are at late bud swell. With low temperatures this winter in the -15 F range at many farms, there is extensive damage in many wine grape varieties.

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