Michigan’s fruit crop took a huge hit with a late season freeze event Saturday morning, and again early Tuesday. Growers were as prepared as they could be, taking every measure to protect their crop and their substantial time and financial investment in the plants and trees. Wind machines were on, fires were burning, and helicopters were circulating in areas to keep warm air moving.
“We’re hearing that this freeze event has led to significant crop damage, but we won’t fully know the extent for a couple weeks,” says Nichole Wilcox, GreenStone's VP of commercial lending.
“This freeze event doesn’t just impact the farm, it will also have an impact on the rest of the value chain – including fresh apple packers, fruit processors, and shippers with a smaller crop this fall. We will continue to work closely with our growers, and we will be monitoring the impact of this event.”
The west side of Michigan, both north and south of ‘fruit ridge’ (which runs NW of Grand Rapids), was affected by the unseasonable weather. Apples, cherries, peaches, blueberries and vegetables risked damage, with cherries and Honeycrisp apples appearing to be the most severely affected.
“In 2012 we had such a killing frost that it pretty much stopped everything from growing in its tracks; this frost was not as severe, but it was significant,” states VP of Credit Tom Urban. “The damage will be seen farm by farm, orchard by orchard, variety by variety, and will impact each grower differently. The frost is capricious – one orchard will be fine, the next one won’t – it’s just where the cold air settles. I’ve seen trees where the bottom fruit is frozen and the top half is fine.”
“The crops are generally well-insured,” Tom adds. “We all see the value of crop insurance when weather happens, and we are advising everyone to file a claim after last weekend.”