Local crops taking the early fall heat

Posted at 5:50 PM, Sep 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-25 17:56:26-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The late season heat wave is presenting a unique challenge to West Michigan farmers, but it might not be what you think.

Instead of hurting crop yields, the unusually high temperatures are accelerating the ripening process of apples and other fruits. This has many local orchards busier than ever. It also has their workers struggling to keep cool.

"Our harvest crew... That's heavy work and they have to work in it through the day," said Tom Moelker, owner of Moelker Orchards in Grand Rapids. "And we've been cutting days a little shorter and starting earlier in the morning to try to keep them more comfortable as well."

Moelker says his fruit crops are one to two weeks ahead of schedule, and they're in peak harvest season right now.

He adds the hot, dry weather may inhibit the red color he and his customers like. Otherwise, they've been able to adjust to the current heat wave.