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.