Frosted: May 20th freeze takes toll on cherries, vineyards

Cherry Blossoms ... frosted by Ken Scott

Cherry Blossoms … frosted by Ken Scott

The Traverse City Ticker has a report on the state of the area’s orchards & vineyards. While it’s not great, it’s certainly better than last year:

Northern Michigan’s cherry crop appears to have taken a 40-60 percent hit thanks to an unexpected late freeze last month, and the news for local grapes and apples might be just as bad.

“Growers are still assessing damage,” says Nikki Rothwell, coordinator for the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center.

During the early morning of May 20, Rothwell says temperatures suddenly dipped down to the mid-20s then abruptly returned to around 30 degrees. This change, though seemingly minor, bodes ill for fruit in the early flowering stages.
“Sometimes five degrees can be a matter of 10 percent kill or 90 percent kill,” says Rothwell. “So 29 to 25 [degrees] is pretty big.”

In a recent report, “Northwest Michigan fruit regional report – June 2, 2015,” Rothwell writes that “unfortunately damage is easy to find throughout the region.”

She indicates that up to 60 percent of the cherry crop might have been killed off and, though the number of viable apples is still being assessed, similar stats could be in store for apples, depending on variety and location. For those fruits that do survive, there is also the potential for serious frost scarring.

Regarding grape loss predictions, at this point Rothwell will only say “It’s not very good.”

“Grapes have been impacted a lot,” says Rothwell. “It’s pretty depressing.” She indicates local grapes were already weakened by harsh winter temperatures, and the May 20 freeze dealt a serious blow.

Read on for more!