COOPERSVILLE, Mich. -- Last year was tough on Michigan crops. The brutally long, cold winter then cool summer made it tough on fruit growers in particular. 2015 is looking much better.
“We have ten to twenty times the number of flower buds or flower, fruit-let potential on the trees then we need” says apple grower Philip Schwallier of Schwallier's Country Basket.
The cool weather has been a positive for apple orchards and, believe it or not, fruit trees do well in winter weather. “We got down to 25 below zero, and that’s okay for fruit trees. They’re pretty resilient, so we aren’t too concerned," explains Schwallier.
“Fruit growers are also the only ones to want winter to last forever,” says Schwallier, “Right now we like this cold weather. Nobody else likes it but we do.”
Winter-like weather means trees are slower to bud, and there's less frost danger. It's warm days and cold nights that worry growers, because frost can damage or destroy spring buds.
Farmers don't mind the recent lack of rain, either.
“That’s actually helped us get much more work done; that doesn’t bother us right now," says Schwallier, "We’d like to have that rain in the summer time. We get more than enough rain in the winter time through snow.”
With plenty of buds on the apple trees, it looks like it is going to be a fruitful year for apple farmers in West Michigan.