Apple growers nervous about early warm temperatures in Michigan

(WLNS) – Most people in the state are thrilled about an early Spring, but Fruit Growers in the state are nervous it may lead to a late freeze, meaning loss of crop.

In 2012, Michigan had temperatures in the high 70s, into the 80s in Mid-March, and then a cold snap in April, ruining most of the states apples.

“We’re hopeful that we won’t have to repeat that kind of disaster but its always a concern this time of year,” Phillips Orchard and Cider Farm Co-President Brian Phillips said.

Phillips says as a fruit grower in Michigan, weather is a constant concern leading into summer.

“We usually have a few nights where we are biting our nails on its going to be close,” Phillips said.

After the disaster in 2012 when most growers lost everything, some growers responded by putting in place safe guards against the fluctuating temps.

“Once you lose 100 percent your crop, it forces you to look at what other areas of the world do,” Country Mill Owner Steve Tennes said.

Tennes installed a sprinkler system to keep the buds cooler through March and April so they don’t bloom too early, as well as a method to raise heat from the ground if the state sees freezing temperatures through April and May.

The Orchard also installed a fan that can raise temperatures near the trees up to five degrees warmer, across an 8 acre wide range.

“That fan will push warm air down from one hundred to two hundred feet to above the ground,” Tennes said.

Tennes says these precautions are all a part of the job, when much of your livelihood is in the hands of mother nature.

“As fruit farmers we’re constantly learning how to adapt to the weather changes that come our way,” Tennes said.

The warmer temperatures are not raising too many concerns as of now as long as they stay mild, and we don’t see any major freezes in late April.



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