SPARTA, Mich. (WOOD) — Spring can be a stressful time for fruit farmers and Tuesday night is no different, with a freeze warning in effect across West Michigan.

“Usually April is anxiety-inducing because we have to worry about frost and the weather rollercoaster that we tend to have,” said Nick Schweitzer, the operations manager of Schweitzer Orchards.

“Damage that happens at about 28 degrees usually has about a 10% kill per hour at that temperature, or lower when we’ll see damage,” added Schweitzer. 

The same goes for Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery, which is also preparing its crop for the overnight lows. 

“Probably below 32 tonight, several of our flowers are in a delicate stage. Peaches and sweet cherries have started to bloom, which means 32 degrees is where some damage will occur,” said Ed Robinette, a member of the Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery. 

The farmers are prepared to take measures to keep their crops warm overnight. That includes running large fans, if weather permits.

A large fan helps blow warmer air back down to apple crops during freezing temperatures. (April 18, 2023)

“That fan is standing up on a big pole. It’s got a great big V10 engine and a propane power source if the temperature gets to the critical level. Then we also need an inversion, which means a calm night and any warm air will sort of float away from the ground like a hot air balloon. That fan, the idea behind it is it’s at a little bit of an angle and it’s going to blow that warm air back to the ground,” said Robinette. 

“The development stage that they are in, which is a tight cluster to some pink and some a little bit farther behind depending on variety, we won’t need to run them until they get around 30 or 32 (degrees),” said Schweitzer. 

Farmers say even a 1 or 2 degree difference can help prevent damage.

“There is still a good possibility that we are going to have a good crop. We’re going to do what we normally do and mitigate mother nature,” said Schweitzer.