April winter weather hits central parts of the US

Cold and snowy weather has been making its way across the central United States over the last few days, plunging parts of the country back into a wintery pattern. Michigan was one of the states that was affected by a weekend snow storm, which brought unseasonably cold temperatures to the region, and up to 2ft of snow in northern areas. 

Michigan is a notable apple growing state, and blooming is possible at this time of year. However, apple growers said that owing to the cool spring so far, the apples have yet to blossom and therefore did not receive any damage. "We've had no issues as the trees haven't budded yet," said Dan Heeren of All Fresh GPS. "A snow storm of this strength is unusual in April, but the weather hasn't been warm enough to bring about any significant growth on the trees yet. The fields are still looking very good."

Source: All Fresh GPS

Other fruit growers in Michigan had a similar message. Steve Spiech of Spiech Farms, said it was a positive sign, as growers are hopeful that they will now pass through the last potential frost week unscathed. "We see it as a positive sign for blueberry and grape growers," Spiech said. "It's been a slow start to spring, and it still looks like winter outside. This patch of cold weather has come at the right time. We need to make it past the last week in April to avoid any further freezes and it looks as though we will achieve that."

For asparagus growers, there has not been any damage reported to their crops either, however the cold start to spring has meant that the start of the season is likely to be delayed. "For crops like asparagus we are concerned about the start date due to the unusually cold spring," said Aaron Fletcher of Todd Greiner Farms. "We typically start picking/packing asparagus around May 10 most years, but we are thinking it could be 5-7 days later than that now (estimated start date May 16 now). These cooler temperatures shouldn’t have any effect on the quality of the crop, just the timing."

Stone fruit growers in Utah more cautious
While growers in Michigan passed the weekend snow storm rather comfortably, stone fruit growers in Utah are more nervous. Unlike the trees in Michigan, stone fruit trees are in full bloom in Utah right now. That means any frosts are potentially damaging. Temperatures in the mornings are currently at levels where even frost protection measures are reaching their limits. But growers so far have reported only minor damage and are hopeful that conditions will remain so.

Source: Fowers Fruit Ranch

"There has been minimal damage to our crop at this stage," said a spokesperson at Fowers Fruit Ranch near Genola, Utah. "We have had several cool mornings and are expecting it to get to 24°F on Tuesday morning. Our frost protection will be on and is expected to create an inversion layer and raise the temperature by 4°F, which should bring it to the minimum. Over the weekend, we did receive minor damage, but only to about 10 percent of the peach crop. There is a full crop on everything else."

One issue that the company is facing is with the bees, and they are hoping that the bees can pollinate the flowers soon. "The main problem right now is the wind which is preventing the bees from coming out and pollinating the flowers," the spokesperson said. "The cooler temperatures in the mornings is keeping the buds closed and the bees can't get to them. In the afternoon when it is warmer, the buds open, but the wind discourages the bees from leaving their hive. Ideally, we want the bees to pollinate the trees before any more frost comes, and not have a repeat of last year when the crop was down due to a lack of pollination. We are remaining positive however, as so far, the fields are in great shape for a good season." 

For more information:
Steve Spiech
Spiech Farms
Tel: +1 (269) 657-1980

Aaron Fletcher
Todd Greiner Farms
Tel: +1 (231) 873-2828

Dan Heeren
All Fresh GPS
Tel: +1 (616) 606-0200

Fowers Fruit Ranch
Tel: +1 (801) 754-3966

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