Weather fluctuation and Michigan’s Crops

Michigan Grapes

Everyone who lives in Michigan knows that the weather can change in an instant. Even before spring officially began this year in mid-March, we experienced record high temperatures for days in a row. The 80 degree temps and balmy summer weather confused us all, but no one seemed to be complaining. But of course, it wouldn’t be Michigan if things didn’t change dramatically, bringing temperatures back down to what could be seasonally expected for this time of year.

The rapid change in weather has affected Michigan’s staple crops, which include grapes. Michigan is the nation’s third largest producer, behind Washington (1) and New York (2) and the warm weather early caused them to grow faster. As the temps dropped back down, the freeze caused damage to the first primary buds on the grapes and the secondary buds will only produce 35% of the former.

Although the grapes that are used to produce wine were not as greatly affected, perennial crops that bare fruit or have vines were the most affected. Michigan is known for its grape crop production, so it remains to be seen how this will affect large companies such as Welch’s.

Another crop that was affected heavily by the early warmth then freezing conditions was cherries in the Northwestern part of Michigan. This part of Michigan produces about half of the state’s cherries. Aside from just the crop damage, many people wonder if this early warming is the result of climate change and global warming. Jeff Andresen, a climatologist and geography professor at MSU says he cant say for sure if the early warming is a direct result of climate change, but does seem to reflect a pattern of rapid weather changes that seems to be increasing.

This was the warmest March on record since 1945, but Michigan has been known to have strange weather, so it seems like it could be Michigan just being Michigan as usual.


Kirk Johnson


One response

  1. My post was about how global climate change and world wide warming trends–namely the melting ice in the polar seas–could potentially affect Michigan. I was thinking on more of level of how risk to human life and property could potentially change in the future, but for some reason, economics and agriculture never even occurred to me. My big question is: is this years weather that exceptional? We have had warm years in the past and I think our expanded knowledge of global climate and our affect on it as a species has heightened our sensitivity to these fluctuations. Regardless, your post has opened my eyes to how economically and agriculturally devastated we as a nation might potentially become if weather becomes more extreme and volatile as we head into the future. It is a reminder of what is at stake.

    Dylan DeVries

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