CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WLNS) — Cold temperatures in April caused major concern among Michigan farmers, but many types of produce in several areas blanketed by frost suffered minimal damage, saved by farmers who worked to protect their crops.
Steve Tennes, co-owner of Country Mill orchard in Charlotte, grows pumpkins, apples and peaches. he said April’s freezing temperatures affected his apple crop more than his peaches. He said his orchard invested in different techniques this year to keep all of the crops warm, ultimately saving the peaches.
“Orchard fans takes the warm air that rises out of the orchard on a cold, still night, and it takes that air and blows it back down into the orchard covering about 10 acres,” Tennes explained. “It warms the temperature two to three degrees, just enough for the flowers that were here before the peaches to not freeze. That process worked for us, saved our crop and allows us to have local peaches for people to pick.”
Fruit farmers need to have warm, dry and calm weather for pollination to take place and ensure a good year. They can save their crops by covering fruit trees with a blanket or sheet when temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
The frost affected young trees differently than mature trees. Some will be able to stay healthy if there’s just one frost scare in spring; longer stretches of cold make that less likely.
Tennes said if a peach tree is frozen and crops get damaged, a farmer has to wait until next spring to get a fresh batch.
“Over here at the Country Mill, we were fortunate enough to warm the orchard up enough this last April and May… so we have a full crop of peaches,” he said. “We are still actually picking even this Labor day weekend.”