Fruit farmer fears effects of looming freeze

Kent County

ALPINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The farming industry has been particularly impacted during the COVID-19 crisis, causing steep drops in business during the closed economy.

The owner of Peach Ridge Farms says business is down 95 percent. Now with a possible freeze on the way, he says this year’s been a nightmare.

“Twenty-three or 24-degrees? That’s catastrophic,” said Todd Quick, owner of Peach Ridge Farms in Alpine Township. “I mean, for five, six hours that’d be pretty rough. It’s going to burn some of that fruit off, that’s for sure.”

A spring freeze can be both a crop and plant killer. The sap in the tree can behave like a bottle of water in the freezer, eventually bursting.

“Snow would be better than just cold,” he said. “And rain would be better than just cold, too, because it keeps the air moving and it’d be less likely for stuff to freeze. Because if we’ve got a dry, cold night with no wind —that’s the one I worry about.”

This year, peaches are blooming a good two weeks early.

“If we can get through the frost, I think the season looks great,” said Quick. “I mean, there will be farmers markets and everything. But once again, the restrictions on a farmer’s market such as Fulton, where they’re going to allow 60 people, how are they going to do that?”

Peach Ridge could live and die by its Consumer Supported Agriculture food pick-up program that directly supports the farm.

“And not just mine, all these farms in the surrounding area,” he said. “There’s guys out here selling strawberries, there’s guys out here selling vegetables up the road. There are all kinds of people —apples, and everything else. You can get everything out here. And you don’t have to worry about all those crowds.”

But at the end of the day, you can only control what you can control.

“I’m having my fingers crossed and you know what? The big man upstairs is looking out for me,” said Quick. “That’s all I can say.”

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