East Michigan fruit update – Sept. 5, 2017

Harvest of apples is in full swing. A few reports of dock sawfly feeding damage have been reported in apples and brown marmorated stink bug feeding damage continues in apples.


Overall, our soils remain dry at most fruit farms across the region. The region received an average of 1.21 inches of precipitation over the last two weeks. However, the range of rainfall for the eight Michigan State University Enviroweather stations listed below varied widely, from only three-tenths of an inch to 2.09 inches from widely scattered thunderstorms on August 28 and 29. No hail was reported with these latest rounds of thunderstorms.

The season long precipitation story of the “haves and have not’s” continues, with rainfall totals for the season being extremely variable over relatively short distances. Signs of drought stress on newly planted and younger fruits have become more widespread. I encourage tree fruit growers to continue to water younger trees over the next few weeks as they begin to prepare for winter.

Our season has remained about three to six days ahead of normal for the entire growing season. However, it has been a relatively cooler than normal growing season.

East Michigan Growing Degree Day Totals for March 1st to September 4 , 2017





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

Apple harvest has ramped up, with McIntosh and Gala harvest going strong and a few Honeycrisp just starting to be harvested. McIntosh are further ahead than Gala this season. There is such wide variability of apple maturity this season, caused by the long bloom period this spring. This trend is continuing as we move through apple harvest. Apple varieties appear to be maturing even earlier than we predicted in our Predicted Apple Harvest Dates article published on the MSUE News website in late July. Look for the second East Michigan Apple Harvest Report to be published tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 6) with more details.

Dock sawfly feeding damage has been seen on a few apple farms, with damage limited to a few apples. It is mainly a problem where effective weed management is a problem. The larvae dig circular holes on the surface of nearly mature apples.

Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) adults and nymphs continue to be caught in traps in many apple blocks. Over the last four weeks I have continued to find just a few apples that were fed on by brown marmorated stink bugs, causing a depression, dimpling, corky or water-soaked area on the skin. This feeding damage is difficult to distinguish from bitter pit, hail damage and feeding by native stink bugs. Growers need to protect maturing fruit if BMSB fruit damage was seen in 2016 or if they are finding them feeding on apples this season, however watch preharvest intervals closely.

We’re seeing bitter pit in more varieties over the last two weeks as fruits approach maturity. Black rot infected fruit continue to be seen in several blocks, mostly in the same blocks where it was a problem last season. Sooty blotch and flyspeck symptoms continue to be reported in more blocks.

Peach harvest is complete, except for a few growers with the latest maturing varieties.

Sweet cherry leaf yellowing and drop continues to be found, mainly from cherry leaf spot. This is seen mostly in the top middles of large trees, indicating a spray coverage problem. I see just a few limbs dying from bacterial canker and I am not finding any new strikes this week.

Tart cherry leaf yellowing and drop continues to be seen, mostly from cherry leaf spot. Some trees are nearly defoliated.

Plum harvest continues for Stanley types.

Small fruits

Strawberry regrowth in renovated fields continues to look good, especially where potato leafhopper populations and weeds were controlled. New plantings continue to runner well especially where soil moisture was adequate, almost filling out the row. Weed control is a problem in many strawberry fields. Labor Day timing is a good one for an herbicide application to get strawberries through fall relatively weed-free.

Raspberry harvest continues for fall red raspberry varieties. Fall bearing black raspberry harvest continues, as does blackberry harvest. Spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) are continuing to be caught in traps in fall raspberries in very high numbers. Growers need to continue SWD protection programs in fall raspberries through harvest.

Grape fruit clusters continue to fill out, with veraison in all varieties. Harvest of early wine grape varieties is underway.

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