Posted by Nick Roster on 4/24/2012 to General News
The weather this year has been a perfect storm to the detriment of the Northern Michigan cherry crop. Towards the end of the season, we had a very wet, heavy snow and high winds. Many of the older cherry trees sustained damage during that storm.
Then, we had an unusually warm spell in March. It was so arm that the trees actually started to bud out. This is a very sensitive time for the trees and the bees. The weather has to remain warm during the day (and dry) for the bees to pollinate the trees. The blossoms are also very sensitive to frost. Since the blossoms were out so early, they were extremely exposed. Towards the end of March and even in April, we have had some very cold nights and frosts. A lot more trees lost their blossoms this spring. Once the trees lose their blossoms, they lose the fruit for that year. Not only did the sweet cherries take a hit, but our signature crop of tart cherries was affected as well.
Events similar to these happened in 2002 and that year Traverse City and the surrounding area had a complete crop failure. Sad times. It looks like we may be headed towards crop failure this year, but we really won't know until the fruit is on the tree. Michigan State University Agricultural Extension will do some surveys later to assess the damage.