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West Michigan: if temperatures rise too soon, fruit farmers will be in trouble

Michigan experts are concerned that if temperatures rise too soon, this will potentially harm fruit crops in the months to come.

Michigan State University Extension Food Educator Mark Longstroth said an early, long stretch of warm weather could push fruit plants to blossom, making them weaker to cold temperatures. If that process happens too early in the year, impending cold snaps can kill the flowers, which would mean they wouldn't produce fruit for the rest of the season.

“At bloom time, around 28 degrees will kill the flowers,” said Longstroth. “If the flowers get killed, then we don't have any apples. The same goes for peaches, cherries, blueberries and grapes too.”

Longstroth said current conditions -- warmer days and nights where temperatures dip below freezing -- are normal for early March. He said those cooler overnight temperatures “slow things down,” preventing fruit plants from blossoming until the right time of the year: Mid-April for apricots, late April for peaches and cherries, and early May for apples.

But temperatures that consistently stay too warm could cause concern, he told wwmt.com.


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