Southeast Michigan fruit regional report – April 23, 2013

Spring has arrived for southeast Michigan fruit growers with most seeing green tissue on tree fruits.


The slow, spring warm-up of the 2013 growing season is finally picking up steam. Tree fruit growers are starting to see green leaf tissue on most tree fruits, with the exception of growers in the Thumb. Our season is running close to two weeks behind normal.

There is a more than the typical spread in flower bud development this season in the southern tier of Michigan counties. They have had more sunny days and warmer temperatures that have pushed their flower bud development more towards normal timing. The pronounced spread is striking this season.

Temperatures slipped to the low 20s on Sunday morning (April 21) at many of our Enviro-weather stations, causing some concern for possible damage to flower buds. The length of the cold temperatures was several hours. I believe we were on the edge of having freeze damage to flower buds in Monroe, Lenawee and Hillsdale counties where flower buds were more advanced. Time will tell if there was damage to the tender tree fruit crops like sweet cherry and peaches.

Most of the region received another 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain over the last week, adding more moisture to an already wet spring. Most soils are at field capacity. Spraying operations will be difficult at many farms. Most growers are not able to plant due to wet soils. Growers are anxious to start planting this year.

 East Michigan growing degree day totals for March 1 to April 22





Commerce (Oakland)




Emmett (St Clair)




Flint (Genesee)




Lapeer (Lapeer)




Petersburg (Monroe)




Pigeon (Huron)




Romeo (Macomb)




Tree fruits

Apples are mostly at one-quarter to one-half of an inch green in the southern tier of counties, at green tip for growers in the Ann Arbor, Flint and Romeo, Mich., areas, and at early silver tip in the Thumb. We had a light discharge of apple scab spores at both of our spore trapping stations (17 at one and 21 at the other) from the rain event of late last week. Growers in the south have sprayed two to three times to cover for apple scab control. Growers in the mid-part of the region are applying copper sprays today to varieties at green tip in anticipation of a rain event predicted for the next few days.

Pear buds are exposed. Pear psylla adults are flying in very low numbers on our warmer days.

Peaches are at first swell with a few early varieties at calyx green. Growers continue to prune peaches. Fruit bud numbers are very high this year with good winter survival, following last year’s light crop. Copper applications will suppress bacterial spot this season, according to Michigan State University Extension; it reduces bacterial populations that will damage leaves and fruit after bloom.

Sweet cherries and tart cherries are mostly at side green with a few early varieties at early green tip.

Plums are mostly at side green for European types, with Japanese types at early green tip.

Small fruits

Strawberry leaves continue to slowly emerge from the crown. Most east Michigan strawberry growers have removed their straw mulch. For those that have, new leaves are emerging. For those growers where straw is still on the bed, the soil temperatures have remained very cold and have little to no new leaf emergence.

Raspberries are at one-quarter of an inch of new growth for summer-bearing types. Most of the canes of fall-bearing types that had emerged from the soil have been frosted back from recent cold temperatures.

Blueberries are at bud swell to early green tip on a few early varieties. Growers continue to make good progress on pruning blueberries.

Grapes have been very slow to show signs of growth this season and are essentially dormant.

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