West Central Michigan small fruit report

Read the update and join us for our second Twilight meeting update on May 5 in West Olive.

Temperatures in the central region have remained low for the past week. So far, high temperatures in Ottawa and Allegan counties have been around the upper 50° (57°F average) and the lows in the 40’s (42°F average). Rain has accumulated to 1.5 to 2.34 inches. Because of these conditions, growing degree day accumulation up to May 3 has reached only 228 base 42° and 89 base 50° F.

Regarding blueberries, growth stages go from bud burst in late season varieties (Elliott) to early pink in the most advanced varieties like Bluecrop. Winter damage in flower buds varies. In some areas near to Grand Junction and Glenn, Michigan, flower bud damage goes from 20 to 25 percent in Bluecrop and Jersey. Damage seems to be a little bit greater in Jersey than in Bluecrop. Damaged buds show one or two dead flowers. However, complete flower bud kill is minimal.

At Ottawa County, winter damage in blueberry fields far from salted roads is between 10 and 11 percent. At those fields, damaged flower buds show one or two dead flowers. In fields alongside major highways, bud damage is greater. Complete bud kill can be observed in rows facing the road but damage decreases as we move away from the road. Damage around 100 feet away from the road averages 20 to 50 percent depending on the location (M-45 or US-31).

At this time, most blueberry fields are showing a half inch green growth that makes them very susceptible to mummy berry infections. We have been monitoring the presence of mummy berry mushrooms and they are abundant due to prevailing humid conditions. Because of the present weather conditions and the abundance of mummy berry inoculum, growers need to be alert to prevent mummy berry infections.

Regarding brambles, raspberries are also moving ahead. Growth exhibited in raspberry fields in the area ranges from half inch green to leaves unfolding. Blackberries are between bud burst and half inch green.

On May 5, we will have our second Twilight meeting at the Ottawa County Fillmore Complex in West Olive. This meeting will focus on early season disease control, monitoring early season insect pests such as fruitworms and also weed management.

Speakers at the meetings will be:

  • Carlos Garcia, MSUE small fruit educator, will present the results of the winter damage evaluation conducted in Ottawa and Allegan County and the effects of the Integrated Road Salt Management Program from the Ottawa County Road Commission.
  • Rufus Isaacs, MSU small fruit entomologist, will discuss monitoring for early season pests focusing on cranberry and cherry fruitworms and will update the group on spotted winged drosophila monitoring in Michigan.
  • Annemiek Schilder, MSU small fruit pathologist, will discuss early-season disease control
  • Eric Hanson, MSU small fruit horticulturalist, will give an overview of early season weed control.

There will be a $10 registration fee which includes dinner. For more information or to RSVP contact Judy Hanson by phone (616) 994-4548 or email.

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