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US (MI): Cherry growers report serious damageNorthern Michigan growers are now starting to report serious damage to cherry crops, resulting from the recent freezing temperatures. The problem was not the cold itself, more the fact that it came on the tail of record warm weather that brought all the trees out in advance.
"I had a grower tell me the other day that we just can’t seem to catch a break this year," said Nikki Rothwell, coordinator of the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station.
"When we warm up and we go into the bloom at the end of March, you know you’re setting yourself up for a lot of challenges."
She said that some growers were harder hit than others, so there will still be some crops this year. Dave Alpers, who has 550 acres of tart cherries and 100 of sweet in Leelanau County, was one of those who was hit hard.
"Right now, at this point in time, there’s significant damage out there,” Mr. Alpers said. "There’s probably 80-90 percent bud kill on [tart] cherries. There’s also more kills on apples than I thought. There’s probably 40 to 60 percent bud kill on apples."
Ms Rothwell says the blossoms are not the only things that are being affected by the weather - there are hardly any bees around either. Without the bees there is less chance of pollination. She says the industry may need to look at adapting.
"I think it’s important to monitor those trends," she said. "That once-in-a-lifetime thing has happened two times" since 2002.
Publication date: 4/24/2012
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