East Michigan fruit update – April 9, 2019

There’s been good amount of growth of our fruit crops in the last few days, with a few crops showing the first signs of early green tip. The sod in orchards is starting to green up.


With warmer temperatures the last few days, it is amazing to see how much growth we have seen. Until the last few days, fruit crop growth has been very slow thus far this season. We are just beginning to see some green tissue in buds and in a few cases seeing green tip in a few fruit crops. We also have had a few nights with warm temperatures, spurring increased growth. Last week at this time, our season was roughly seven to 10 days behind normal, but with the warmer temperatures these last few days, our spring has caught up on itself. We are still behind normal, but only by three to four days. Cooler temperatures are predicted for the next 10 days, with cool to cold night time temperatures. This will slow growth down considerably.

Our growing degree-day totals have tripled to quadrupled with the warmer temperatures in the last few days. Last week at this time, many of our Michigan State University Enviroweather stations recorded degree-day totals in the single digits. Yesterday, April 8, the Deerfield and Flint weather stations were the first to break into the triple digit totals.

Field work is still generally limited to pruning in tree fruits, blueberries and grapes, mainly due to wet soil conditions. However, our soils are starting to dry to a point where tree planning will begin soon. Growers are not spraying yet, but they are getting sprayers out of storage and tuned up for the season.

Growers who keep honeybees are reporting another big loss in colonies over winter. Some losses are in the range of 75 to 90 percent.

East Michigan growing degree-day (GDD) totals for March 1 to April 8, 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 are mostly at silver tip, with a few branches on early flowering varieties at early green tip. I have not caught any apple scab spores in my traps in the short rain events over the weekend. Most growers are seeing a nice crop of flower buds as they are starting to swell. I am finding some tips of leaders and scaffold branches that appear to be dehydrated in blocks that were planted last season, mostly in high density plantings. These branch tips will bear watching over the next few weeks to see if they will need to be pruned back to sound tissue. It appears these trees did not harden off well last fall.

Pears are at bud swell with no green tissue. Some pear psylla adults are visible.

Peaches are at bud swell with no green tissue. Hold off pruning until flower buds become more visible to determine possible crop loss. There has been some winter flower bud damage in peaches this season.

Sweet cherries are at swollen bud and beginning to see some green tissue on bud scales. As with peaches, there has been some flower bud damage in sweet cherries this winter.

Tart cherries are at swollen bud and there is green tissue on the bud scales.

Plums are at bud swell for European varieties and swollen bud to green tissue on bud scales for Japanese varieties.

Small fruits

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

Raspberries remain dormant for fall raspberries; most have been mowed over the last week as soils have dried out. Summer raspberries are just starting to see 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. With low temperatures this winter in the -15 degrees Fahrenheit range, there will be extensive damage in many wine grape varieties.

Did you find this article useful?

You Might Also Be Interested In