East Michigan fruit update – June 25, 2019

The region is finally starting to dry out, even though many east Michigan growers saw another inch of precipitation in the last week. Strawberry harvest continues across the region with saskatoon and sweet cherry harvest to follow in the next week or so.

Saskatoons nearing harvest. Photo by Bob Tritten


Our region is starting the long process of drying out after one of the wettest and coolest springs on record. A good amount of field work is finally taking place. I have been on several fruit farms in the past week that shared with me that they still have tree and small fruit yet to plant. This is unheard of. Tree fruit growers are thinking about how to repair the many deep ruts in orchards left from spraying operations in this wet spring.

Many fruit farms saw another 1.1 inches of precipitation over the last week, with many of our MSU Enviroweather stations across the region receiving measurable precipitation in two or three of the last seven days. This number is down considerably compared to the last seven to eight weeks.

Our season remains cool. We are still running between three to seven days behind normal when looking at both flowering stages and growing degree day totals for the region, even with warmer daytime temperatures. At this late date in early summer, it will be very hard for the season to catch up with normal.

East Michigan Growing Degree Day totals for March 1 to June 24, 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 1.25 to 1.5 inches in diameter, or 32 to 39 millimeters (1 inch = 25 millimeters). Apples across the entire region are about the same size, which is unusual because the typical season apples are about 5 millimeters larger in the southern parts of the region. Most growers have a good fruit set at this time, and overall growers are pleased with their crop. Hand-thinning continues in apples.

Insect pest pressure in apples has mostly been slow this week. Only one new insect pest to report this week is the first few sightings of just a few San Jose scale crawlers. A few more orchards had high trap catch of obliquebanded leafroller adults over the last week. Codling moth trap counts have generally been steady over the last week, with most traps catching numbers in the low to mid-teens. White apple leafhopper adults and potato leafhopper adults continue to be seen. A few brown marmorated skink bug adults continue to be found; these are overwintering adults. Fewer tarnished plant bug adults and nymphs are seen. I have not seen any woolly apple aphids yet. A few blocks of apples have spotted tentiform leafminer larvae in the leaves and the second generation adults are expected to return soon. A few more beneficials are being seen this week, including six spotted thrips, red velvet mites and last week I saw green lacewing adults. Apple maggot traps need to be set this week or next week.

A few more fire blight shoot strikes continue to be found in more apple blocks. Be on the lookout for shoot strikes, and break them out so the branches dry out as soon as possible. More streptomycin leaf yellowing or burn continues to show up on more sensitive varieties. Apple scab lesions on fruit continue to be found, but at low levels. Powdery mildew infected terminals continue to be found in many apple blocks.

Pears are mostly at around an inch in diameter. Pear psylla adult flight continues.

Peaches are mostly at 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter for the largest sized fruit. Hand-thinning continues in peaches. A few green peach aphids continue to be found. Peach leaf curl symptoms are very common this season in many blocks.

Sweet cherries are continuing to color and putting on a flush in size, they are mostly at 15 to 17 millimeters for the largest fruits. Harvest is expected to begin in five to eight days. Fruit drop is continuing in sweet cherries this week. Bird feeding is high in both sweet and tart cherries in the last few days. There are some early signs of cherry leafspot disease showing up on leaves at a few farms.

Tart cherries remain mostly at 12 to 15 millimeters in size for the largest fruits, with some drop occurring in tarts as well. Coloring is continuing in tarts. There are some signs of cherry leafspot disease showing up on leaves this week at several farms.  

Plums are at 19 to 21 millimeters in diameter for European varieties, and Japanese varieties are at 22 to 26 millimeters in diameter. There has been a good amount of fruit drop in the last week, especially in European varieties. Many Japanese varieties have a light crop this season.

Small fruits

Strawberry harvest for mid-season varieties continues. Many growers report record harvest in the past week. Berry size has been excellent this season, even in the third and fourth picking. I am glad to see the cooler weather continue, as it will help preserve berry quality. Yesterday, I had two reports of thrips damage in strawberries and got to see fruit from one of these farms. Be on the lookout for seedy, bronze-colored fruits. If you find these symptoms, I would appreciate hearing from you soon. Growers need to be closely scouting for slugs due to wet soils this season.

Raspberry canes continue to elongate in both summer and fall raspberries. Most summer raspberries have small fruitlets that are continuing to size and early berries are starting to color. A few early spotted wing Drosophila adults continue to be caught in traps. Traps are catching a very high number of other look-alike fruit flies this season.

Blueberries mostly have fruitlets around 10 to 12 millimeters in size. A few early spotted wing Drosophila adults continue to be caught in traps. Traps are catching a very high number of other look-alike fruit flies this season.

Saskatoons are at 10 to 12 millimeters in size, with a nice crop coming along this season. I expect harvest to begin late this week. Birds are also feeding heavily in saskatoons.

Grapes are at early bloom, most have 26 to 36 inches of new growth. Some mildew signs are starting to show up.

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