Southeast Michigan fruit regional report – September 3, 2013

Plum, pear, fall red raspberry and blackberry harvest continues. Gala harvest may begin late this week or next week.


Cooler temperatures have generally persisted over the region for the last four weeks, pushing back our season for most fruit growers to one week behind normal when I look at growing degree day (GDD) totals. However, we are close to normal to a few days behind normal when I look at growth stages and the start of harvest of our fruit crops.

Soil moisture conditions are all over the board across the region, but most areas of east Michigan received an inch of precipitation over the last week, with a few in the Brighton, Mich., area and points east receiving close to 4 inches of precipitation in a slow moving front last Friday night (Aug. 30). This same storm front brought an unbelievably long and intense display of lightning.

Our soils are trending toward becoming dry and some are at a point where they need to be replenished with rain or irrigation. Tree and small fruits are wilting at a few farms.

East Michigan GDD totals for March 1 to September 2





Commerce (Oakland)




Emmett (St Clair)




Flint (Genesee)




Lapeer (Lapeer)




Petersburg (Monroe)




Pigeon (Huron)




Romeo (Macomb)




Tree fruits

Apples have taken on a swell of growth at most farms this past week. Gala harvest is expected to begin for early maturing strains later this week or early next week. Honeycrisp are close, but not mature yet. Some Honeycrisp do not seem to be maturing normally this season. McIntosh are still eating on the green side. I will be collecting a set of apples for testing today (Sept. 3) that will be analyzed over the next few days, thus, the first apple harvest report from Michigan State University Extension will be published on Thursday, Sept. 5. Summer pruning continues. Retain applications continue to be made in several varieties.

Bitter pit is being seen more commonly as we move closer to harvest, especially where fruit is large in areas where soil moisture supplies have been plentiful this season. Growers need to consider additional applications of calcium in cover sprays.

Codling moth trap catch numbers from the second generation flight have continued to drop back. However, we have just heard that codling moth trap numbers have been up in southwest Michigan in the last week, which is odd, but something to keep an eye on here. Second generation egg hatch continues and is most likely past its peak. I encourage growers to continue to check traps for at least two more weeks, particularly with what’s happening in southwest Michigan with their uptick in moth trap numbers last week.

I continue to catch a few apple maggots, but their numbers are dropping. There are a few isolated hotspots of European red mites and two-spotted spider mites in a few apple blocks, but generally their numbers are well below threshold levels. No brown marmorated stink bugs have been trapped or reported in the region this season. A few have been trapped in known non-fruit sites in south central and southwest Michigan. There continues to be high numbers of predators this season.

Pears have continued to size this past week with Bartlett harvest getting underway at most farms.

Peach harvest is complete with the exception of a few of the latest maturing varieties. No brown marmorated stink bugs have been trapped or reported in peaches in the region this season.

Plum harvest continues.

Small fruits

Strawberries continue to rebound from renovation with most newly planted berries continuing to runner well.

Raspberry harvest of fall red raspberry and blackberry continues. Spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) trap catch rose sharply in the past week. A few farms have stopped harvest due to infested fruit. Growers need to continue checking fruit samples for larvae. Consult the MSU Spotted Wing Drosophila website for details on how to check for larvae in fruit.

Reports of crumbly berry disorder continue to be received. A good number of farms are reporting they are just starting to see gray mold or Botrytis rot on fruit. With the high humidity of the last week and a good number of mornings with heavy dew, this is to be expected. A fungicide application will be needed as soon as possible to bring this disease back under control.

Blueberry harvest has wrapped up at most farms or is winding down for others as berry size and quality is getting poor. In the last week, SWD-infested fruit has caused some farms to close for the season. Trap catch numbers have risen sharply in the last week. Blueberry maggot trap catch on yellow sticky traps continues with most plantings having declining numbers.

Grapes are at veraison for Concord types. Downy mildew and powdery mildew continue to be seen in many grape plantings.

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