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Significant Damage Reported in Michigan Orchards

Published: Friday, May 22, 2020

The following is from the Michigan Field Office of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service for the week ending May 17.

Drier conditions early in the week allowed for some planting and other fieldwork to continue. There were 4.3 days suitable for fieldwork.

Temperatures were generally cooler across the state, slowing pasture, hay and wheat growth. In the East Central region, additional sugarbeet replanting was reported due to prior frost and flood damage. Multiple reports also reference potential freeze damage in wheat as well.

Significant planting progress was reported in corn and soybeans, but heavy rains late in the week halted most field activity, especially in the central and southern Lower Peninsula.

Other activities for the week including applying fertilizer, scouting, spraying for weeds, spraying burn down applications on cover crops, and spring tillage to prep fields.


Freezes early last week caused significant fruit damage across the state. Most apples in the East were in full pink. King bloom was beginning in the earliest varieties. Freeze damage was widespread. There will be an apple crop in the East, though it appeared to be reduced significantly.

On the Ridge, the extent of the freeze damage is unknown and will become evident as the crop begins to flower. The crop there was in tight cluster to early pink.

In the Southwest, apple damage was widespread. Gala, Fuji and Jonagold appeared to be most affected.

Peaches in the East were at petal fall. Damage from freezing temperatures was unknown and will become evident in the coming weeks. Peaches on the Ridge were just beginning to bloom.

Peaches in the Southwest ranged from full bloom to petal fall. There was significant damage, though it was expected to be mitigated somewhat by the very high density of flowers.

Tart cherries in the Southwest were in bloom. Freeze injury was widespread and variable with some areas suffering only partial loss to some areas having lost the entire crop.

In the West Central, growers reported a significant crop loss. Growers farthest from the lake and those on poorer sites had more damage. Some growers will have no crop in 2020.

In the Northwest, there was damage to the crop, though the extent was unknown.

Blueberry growers in the Southwest report minor damage to their crop though it was not expected to significantly impact the 2020 crop.


Multiple freeze events early in the week caused fleeting setbacks for producers. Asparagus harvest was temporarily halted with the freezes; with the removal of damaged spears, limited harvest returned in the South by the week's end.

Cole crop planting continued in the Southeast. In the South, a few sweet corn seedlings were damaged, but overall did well, as much of the crop was still below ground.

Large-scale potato planting was complete in the Southwest, although no emergence has been observed at this time.

Topsoil moisture was rated very short, 0 percent; short, 1 percent; adequate, 55 percent; surplus, 44 percent.

Subsoil moisture was rated very short, 0 percent; short, 1 percent; adequate, 68 percent; surplus, 31 percent.

The crop progress schedule (last week, previous week, 2019 and 5-year average) showed: corn planted, 59, 37, 15, 44; corn emerged, 11, 3, 1, 15; soybeans planted, 56, 35, 8, 25; soybeans emerged, 11, 2, 1, 5; winter wheat jointing, 69, 53, 39, 57; barley planted, 50, 29, 25, NA; barley emerged, 21, 9, 6, NA; oats planted, 80, 69, 61, 71; oats emerged, 49, 33, 28, 41; sugarbeets planted, 94, 85, 66, 90; sugarbeets emerged, 72, 56, 15, NA.

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