West Michigan tree fruit regional report – April 15, 2014

Despite summer-like storms, tree fruit development continues to be delayed in the West Michigan region.

Spring continues to be slow to arrive in 2014. Growing degree day totals for the general West Michigan area continue to run behind normal by roughly two to three weeks and totals are very similar to this same time in 2013 when first green on apples was April 27. If the forecast holds true, we will most likely be close to or even after that date for 2014. The first silver tip was seen in Zestar on April 14, 2014, and sweet cherry buds are swelling slightly, but no green tissue in any tree fruits yet.

On Saturday, April 12, rather severe storms moved through some areas of the Ridge, mainly in an area from 12 Mile north to about 20 Mile with Kent City, Mich., areas being hit pretty hard. Some trees were knocked over or completely broken off and we estimate about 3,000 to 4,000 high density planted trees were lost. Large hail from pea -to nickel-size was prevalent across the area and nicked up the west side of trees.

Tree fruit diseases

Copper applications on sweet cherry and other stone fruits can be applied at any time; make sure there is no green tissue showing if you are using full rates to help with bacterial canker. In sweet cherry blocks with hail damage from the April 12 storms, a copper spray would be a good idea to hopefully help with bacterial canker which could be present on tree surfaces. Fire blight in apples was not an issue with this storm. Copper in apples for fire blight management is best timed for delayed dormant or silver tip and it has activity against apple scab as well.

Also, the Section 18 label for Kasumin for fire blight has been approved for 2014 and states that some other fire blight applications need to be made prior to using Kasumin. It does not specify the timing of that application specifically to bloom, so an early season copper spray would fill that requirement.

Peach leaf curl sprays should definitely be considered this spring, even if you applied them last fall. If you applied last fall, any residue will be gone due to all the precipitation we’ve had over the winter, and if this pattern of a cool, drawn-out spring continues, it is perfect environmental conditions for the peach leaf curl fungus to get a foothold in early developing buds. This disease is a major problem usually one out of every six to eight years and in 2013 there was quite a bit of infection. With higher inoculum coming into 2014 and the weather staying in a cool pattern, 2014 could also be a banner year for this disease, so don’t skip peach leaf curl sprays this year.


No activity to report for tree fruit insects at this time, but a few of the cool weather moths have been seen flying in the evenings for about a week now. Green fruit worm could start to fly soon. If you have the time, scouting for European red mite overwintering eggs should be done; there could be significant mortality of eggs due to the extra cold winter. Dormant oil sprays will help with San Jose scale, which was significantly higher in some blocks in 2013 and will need to be targeted in 2014. See Michigan State University Extension’s recommendations on dormant oil use for 2014.

Meeting announcements

The annual Spring Spray Meeting on the Ridge will be held Tuesday, April 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Goodfellow Farm as in recent years. The address is 2267 12 Mile Rd., Sparta, MI 49345. Please use the orchard entrance near Laubach Road, west of the house drive. We will meet in the large, white building located behind the houses. This meeting is sponsored by the Michigan State Horticultural Society and MSU Extension.

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