Cold snap may cause some damage to the area’s 2017 fruit crops

Paul Garrod

    PAW PAW - With  area temperatures dipping into the low teens mid-week, some damage may have been caused to area fruit, according to Mark Long-stroth, Michigan State University Extension Small Fruit Educator.
    “This morning (March 14),  we dropped into the low teens,” said Longstroth. “That is cold enough to cause some damage of many of the tree fruit, but not cold enough to cause severe damage.”
    Longstroth said,  “Everybody got hurt a little, but I do not think anyone got hurt a lot. I am most worried about stone fruit, peaches, cherries and plums. I don’t think we have any damage to grapes and probably only a little to some blueberries.
    “We had a widespread freeze with temperatures low enough to cause damage in many areas and severe damage in the most advanced sites and fruit crops.”
     Longstroth said, “We are at the swollen bud stage for most tree fruit. Japanese plums and apricots are more advanced with the buds starting to open.”
    According to Longstroth, the lowest temperatures generally occurred between 5 and 6 a.m.
    Longstroth said all tree fruit farms suffered damage to all fruit crops, including apple,  peach, apricot and Japanese plum orchards.
    Cherries in southern Berrien County were more advanced, so   the damage will be more. The extent of that damage remains  to be seen, according to Longstroth.
    The extent of  damage to cherries in northern Berrien and Van Buren counties, appears to be less, according to Longstroth. “I do not think there was any damage to grapes,” he said.
    Blueberries in southern Berrien County may have suffered, however, according to Longstroth. “I do not think there was significant damage to the north.”
    He added, “We were extremely fortunate that we had a week of cold weather before this freeze and I expect my estimates of damage may be high. My experience has been that cold weather before a freeze makes the buds less susceptible to cold by a degree or two.  I am sure growers will be looking at their plantings when warm weather returns.”
    Longstroth said,  “    I estimate we have six more weeks when the temperature is likely to drop to damaging levels and this will not be our last freeze event.”


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