Colder weather damages some fruit trees in Southwest Michigan

OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The cold April weather is worrying some Southwest Michigan fruit farmers while many buds are in a crucial period for development.

Scott Husted, owner of the Husted Farm Market near Kalamazoo, has seen damage to his cherry and peach trees.

“Last Thursday we had down to 23 degrees, which is really cold for this time of year,” Husted said.

Husted said it will be several weeks before he knows the real impact the temperature drop will have on his harvest.

“We’re just concerned with how many of the buds are still viable, he said. “We have damage in the peaches and the sweet and tart cherries, are all showing damage in the buds.”

At this stage, buds need to be cut open to see any damage. However, the cold has not damaged every type of fruit in the area, according to Mark Longstroth, who is a fruit educator with the Michigan State University Extension.

“Blueberries and grapes. I don’t think they were far enough along to be hurt,” Longstroth said.

The MSU extension office is still collecting data to get a better overall picture of potential yields.

“We have a lot of tart cherry orchards here in Southwest Michigan, so we’re going around and looking and we see really severe damage and in other places, just moderate damage,” Longstroth said.

Other parts of the state were not as susceptible to the temperature drop. That’s because in those areas, April is very early in the fruit-growing season.

“The cold weather we’ve had down here has hurt us, but it hasn’t hurt anybody else. Up in Grand Rapids or Traverse City, because they’re just not as far along, even though they may get colder than we do,” Longstroth said.

Despite the challenges with cherries, Husted is trying to stay positive.    

“We’re still optimistic on the peaches and the apples, for sure,” Husted said.