Hail has served as a large problem for many apples growers in southwest Michigan. It comes in various sizes and there is not spray or special soil you can apply to prevent hail from damaging apple orchards. Although hail is normally a short-term event it can damage a crop between 40 to 100 percent. In 2008 a hailstorm caused up to $100,00 is losses in Kent County. Last April, Grand Rapids, MI., was hit by a large storm that brought hail and funnel clouds. It was reported that Sheridan was hit with hail as large as an inch and a half. These types of hailstorms produce in the growing season of apple orchards and cause severe damage. When struck by hail the apples are deformed by the impact and left with scars and dents. These apples must either be thrown out or some may be used for applesauce or juice. However, the hoped profit cannot be regained. Bushels of apples normally sell between $20 to $30, but after the apples are damaged farmers are lucky to get $6 to $10 at a processing plant. Hail can even transmit a bacterium called fire blight bacterium, which spreads rapidly in warm wet weather through punctures or scrapes in the apples. The bacterium is called Erwinia amylovora and when the hail punctures the apples the bacteria begins to spread. Immediately after a hail storm farmers should spray their trees to prevent the bacteria from spreading through the torn leave and damages apples. Hailstorms are causing many problems for the orchard growers of west Michigan because they normally correspond with the apple season orchards are at a higher risk of hail damage. Michigan is known for its apple orchards and many people live off the production value. It is difficult and almost impossible to prevent hail from damaging an orchard but measures such as sprays can be used to protect the orchards from fire blight.
By: Gretchen Rambadt