East Michigan fruit update – April 10, 2018

Late winter weather continues to hold back development of fruit crops in east Michigan.


The grip of late winter weather continues across the region. In my time of calculating and reporting growing degree-day (GDD) totals for the region, I can’t remember a season of reporting so few degree-day totals for this early to mid-April time period. This may end up to be the coldest start of April since weather records have been kept for many reporting stations in the region. Our season is two to three weeks behind normal.

Most fruit crops are still not showing signs of spring growth, with the exception of a few peach, sweet cherry and blueberry varieties that are showing some slight bud swelling. There are signs of winter flower bud damage and death in peaches and sweet cherries across the region, mainly north of I-94.

The coldest days of winter for most of our Michigan State University Enviroweather stations was recorded on the morning of Jan. 6 and 7, and for others the coldest morning was Dec. 28. Low temperatures ranged from -8 degrees Fahrenheit to -15 F for the reporting stations on the list in the following table. A few fruit growers report their lowest recorded temperature this winter was -20 F. The weather last fall was relatively mild to the time between Christmas and New Years when we had a sudden drop in temperatures. Most of the damage to these stone fruit crops occurred at this time. It almost appears that the flower buds were freeze-dried. These damaged flower buds have been slowly dropping throughout winter.

Most of our region has soils that are too wet at this time to do any fieldwork, other than the continuation of pruning activities in tree fruits, blueberries and grapes. I have not heard of any tree planting.

East Michigan GDD totals for March 1 to April 10, 2018





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 dormant to a few early varieties at very early silver tip. There does not appear to be any flower bud damage in apples due to extreme cold temperatures this winter. Most growers are seeing a nice crop of flower buds. Growers are continuing pruning through this cold April. I have not set up my apple scab trapping equipment yet this spring due to cold weather. Many growers are seeing higher populations of overwintering scale populations as they have been doing pruning this winter.

Pears are mostly dormant. I have seen only a few pear psylla adults this spring, which is unusual for this late in spring.

Peaches are mostly showing some signs of cracking of the flower bud scales to early bud swell in a few varieties. Hold off the beginning of pruning until flower buds become more visible to determine any possible crop loss. As discussed in the weather section of this report, some flower buds were damaged this winter.

Sweet cherries are at bud scale cracking to a few varieties being at swollen bud. As discussed in the weather section of this report, some flower buds were damaged this winter.

Tart cherries remain dormant.

Plums remain dormant.

Small fruits

Strawberries leaves are very slowly emerging from the crown. Most strawberries are still covered with their straw mulch. Straw removal may begin later this week or early next week.

Raspberries remain dormant.

Blueberries are mostly dormant, with a few varieties at bud swell.

Grapes remain dormant.

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