Michigan apple growers assess freeze damage

May 20, 2020

michApple blossom time is here, and Michigan Apple growers continue their work to ensure a strong crop for the 2020 harvest.

“Along the Fruit Ridge area of Michigan, just north of Grand Rapids, apple trees will be in full bloom by this weekend,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “The freezing temperatures from earlier this month only caused minimal damage and we are hearing confidence from growers and the industry that Michigan will produce a healthy crop of apples this fall.”

Growers battled freezing temperatures over three nights in early May to protect their crops. Temperatures descended into the low 20s, and growers employed frost fans, sprinklers, fires and other methods to keep temperatures up in the orchards.

“After the crop loss in 2012 Michigan Apple growers made significant investments in frost protection equipment,” said Smith. “That preparedness served them well this year as they were well-equipped to fend off the freeze damage. One grower commented to me that over one night his frost fan paid for itself.”

According to Amy Irish-Brown, MSU Extension Educator, a cold start to spring and the great climate in Michigan (including lake effect buffering of the harsh conditions) kept trees delayed in development, providing more protection from the cold.

“Normally, orchards would have been in full bloom when the freezes came through, but they were only in tight cluster. Flower buds are tougher in the cold in tight cluster than bloom, and the cold temps were not as devastating as they would have been had we been in bloom,” said Irish-Brown.

Irish-Brown said southwest Michigan saw more damage in its apple blossoms, as it was further along in bud development and it was colder there during the freezes. Northwest Michigan is several days behind downstate and it is simply too early to tell if any damage took place. The Fruit Ridge, which is responsible for approximately 75 percent of Michigan’s apple production, saw less damage.

“My colleagues and I feel good about saying we still have 95 percent of a crop. Certain varieties were hurt more than others, which is expected for varieties that are always more sensitive to cold damage — Red Delicious, Jonagold, Fuji — but some sites even have decent crops of these, so the damage is quite variable,” she said.

Michigan Apple growers harvest an average of approximately 25 million bushels of apples each year. There are more than 14.9 million apple trees in commercial production, covering 34,500 acres on 775 family-run farms in Michigan.

The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded nonprofit organization devoted to marketing, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption in Michigan and around the world. For more information, visitMichiganApples.com.

Stemilt to host Virtual Cherry College webinar
Stemilt is bringing its in-person cherry education experience to the computer screen for the inaugural Stemilt U: Virtual Cherry College webinar. The 60-minute webinar will be held on Wednesday, July 22 at 2 p.m. EST. Led by Tate Mathison, Stemilt director of sales, the webinar will take attendees through the cherry Read More ...
Fresh Thyme partnership brings same-day delivery to the Midwest
Specialty retailer Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is partnering with Shipt, making it more convenient to conquer healthy living goals. Customers in 30 metro areas across the Midwest region will have access to this new offering from Shipt and Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, giving more than 10 million households this option for Read More ...
A bridge too Pharr: $3.7M of meth found in produce
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations at the Pharr International Bridge cargo facility intercepted $3.7 million worth of alleged methamphetamine that was hidden within a commercial shipment of fresh produce. “Our officers at the cargo facility are committed to upholding our border security mission Read More ...
Albertsons' Jim Donald: Organics a driver for continued retail growth
Blockbuster sales of organic fresh produce and a spike of in-home eating will continue to propel strong retail growth over the next 18 months, according  to Jim Donald, Albertsons’ Cos. co-chairman, in an exclusive virtual presentation for the Organic Produce Summit. As part of  wide-ranging interview with Kevin Coupe of Read More ...
Target adds a fast and safe way to get groceries
Target shoppers can now purchase fresh and frozen grocery items via its Order Pickup and Drive Up services at more than 400 stores. The expansion of the enhanced service to hundreds of stores across the Midwest is the first step in the company's plan to offer fresh and frozen grocery items for Order Pickup and Drive Up at Read More ...
Three sales veterans join Generation Farms
Generation Farms has expanded its sales team. Randy Bolhuis, Steven Johnson and James Towell all joined the leading grower shipper of organic and conventional onions, watermelon, and other fresh fruits and vegetables as Sales & Procurement Associates. "We couldn’t be more excited," said Brian Stanley, director of sales Read More ...