Frozen grapes (not the good kind)

Because of an early freeze a few weeks ago, many grape crops have been damaged from the Midwest to the east coast. Crops that in the past year have provided 2/3 of of the fruit in the U.S. used to make non-alcoholic grape juice. Michigan is the third largest grape producer in the United States, and we are estimated to have lost around 90 percent of our grape crop. Last year grape farmers in the MI counties of Berrien, Cass and Van Buren collected $24 million, but according to a surveyor from Welch’s Foods, they are going to be lucky if even make $2 million this year.

grape frostTemperatures fell below 32 degrees Fahrenheit between April 6th to 14th. The cold weather destroyed primary buds that had already begun to grow on the plants due to unusually warm weather in March. An employee of Welch’s said he went through hundreds of acres at one orchard before finding a live bud. He said it was a “complete wipeout.”(According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, March was the warmest in the U.S. since 1895, with an average temperature of 51.1 degrees. It was 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average.) Experts say the secondary buds that will grow back won’t produce nearly the same levels of crop. It is estimated the crops will only produce about 35 percent of the normal output. They won’t know the complete effect until after the second week of May once the buds start budding again.

On the plus side, wine grapes are not expected to have been affected by the weather because they are usually a few weeks behind the schedule of juice grapes. Wine grapes are also a huge part of Michigan’s economy, contributing about 300 million dollars annually. This information does not help grape farmers that grow juice grapes, but it may relieve a little tension knowing that part of the grape economy will still be able to contribute this year.

Emily Jager



2 responses

  1. I never knew that Michigan was a huge producer in grapes let alone third biggest! The cold streaks could bring down the ranking for Michigan being number 3. What farmers should do is prepare more for climate change. The grapes may need to be grown in-doors, or at least be covered up at night while the temperatures drop, to help avoid frost killing the buds.

    Frank King

  2. This article was very interesting. I didn’t know that Michigan was one of the third largest grower states for grapes. The unusually warm weather in March was definitely a shocker for many and a disappoint as well because the following week it immediately went back to cool to cold temperatures. Michigan weather has been in constant flux over recent years and this has become a great concern of mine. The economy in Michigan is already suffering and it is very disappoint that juice grape growers have to take such a hard hit this year because of the frost. My parents have this exotic flowering plant in their front year and my dad was so concerned about the plant getting damaged by the frost that he went out of his way to protect it.
    I personally believe that global warming is affecting the weather and not in a positive manner.
    -Sabree Caver

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