Damage to Cherry Crop is the Pits

It’s true that most of the students at Michigan State University loved the week of warm weather in March, along with many others in Michigan, but any Michigander knew that weather like that wasn’t going to last long.  The weather quickly turned back to winter and forced us to get our coats back out.  For farmers, the transition wasn’t so easy.  These fluctuating temperatures didn’t help farmers at all, the frozen temperatures following the summer like weather “wiped out a big portion of the cherry crop in Northwest Michigan.”

According to some researchers, this warm up was historic.  The temperatures reached were record breaking.  Although it hasn’t been said to be a direct result of climate change, one researcher says that these temperatures fit the “predicted long term pattern of change.”  The early warm temperatures caused the fruit buds to advance to a “stage of development that left them very vulnerable to temperatures below freezing,” so when an overnight frost hit, the cherry crops in northwestern Michigan suffered.  Many farms lost 50% to 70% of their crop, but some lost as much as 90%.  The farmers also have to deal with a longer season of fighting pathogens and pollination problems brought on by the warm temperatures.  Being that fruit production is a major industry in Michigan’s economy, these losses reach far beyond the kitchen.

Growers hope to salvage their crop and make the most of what they have, but losing money in such a lowly economy is hard.  For now, the government could provide some assistance to help the growers make it through to next year and hope that such temperature fluctuations don’t happen again.  Growers could have a more active approach and try to prevent this situation from happening again.  By looking into the various ways to prevent their crops from freezing, growers could then decide if such methods would be worth it.  What are your ideas for possible prevention strategies?  How can we deal with what has already happened?  Post your ideas below!

Bonnie Lowry

Sources:

http://www.environmentreport.org/show.php?showID=629

http://bloggingformichigan.com/2012/04/16/west-michigan-fruit-production-devastated-by-bizarre-weather/

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2 responses

  1. Yes, I agree what you mentioned about cherry crop. The change in the weather is the main problem of cherry crop. In fact, I think farmers can try greenhouses which made of steel frame, which can avoid effect brought by temperature fluctuations, and if winds or hail is coming, steel frame can protect crops, when too cold, farmers can also try warm the greenhouse up, like burning coal. And the Michigan state can also analyze different regions grow different crop. For example, we can grow cold-resistant crop in northern part of Michigan, and grow delicate crop in southern part of Michigan. If temperature kept freeze cherry crop, maybe we should try some new crops.

    by Yiqing Ge

  2. With such drastic changes in the weather lately, I was wondering the effect it had on crops. An interesting fact you included was that crops were a large factor in Michigan’s economy. Maybe if a separate fund was created in the Michigan government to help farmers maintain crops even in such extreme weather changes, it could help change some of the financial issues.

    Sean Smith

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