Upcoming freeze could cause damage to fruit crops, plants at your home

The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids has issued a Freeze Warning for late Friday night through Saturday morning
Posted at 3:09 PM, May 08, 2020

KENTWOOD, Mich. — A freeze expected Friday night and into Saturday morning could cause extensive damage to fruit crops and even the flowers planted in your home garden.

The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids has issued a Freeze Warning for late Friday night through Saturday morning for most of West Michigan.

Garden centers around West Michigan just got the go-ahead to open back up to the public at the end of April.

“Mother's Day traditionally, for greenhouses for garden centers is a huge weekend. Unfortunately, we're facing some weather conditions that are also unusual and yet, it's not something we haven't gone through before," Rick Vuyst, of Flowerland, told FOX 17 Friday. “In this situation, it's the severity of the cold temperatures that make it quite unusual."

Vuyst says that most of your landscape-type plants should be fine this weekend.

“A lot of Michigan plants are tougher than you think they are. You look at pansies or peonies, or tulips. They're tough guys," Vuyst said.

"They've been outdoors. There could be some damage, especially to flowering plants or plants that are currently in-flower, like trees or shrubs. But we found from past events like this that what will happen is you may lose the year's blooms on a flowering tree or a flowering plant but it's not going to kill the plant."

He says your focus should be on smaller, tender plants.

"Tender plants like annuals, tomatoes, cucumbers, your flowering plants, I recommend bringing them inside. If they're already planted, cover them or wait to plant until we've passed this significant frosty event," Vuyst said.

You should always cover your plants with a tent-style covering, so the material isn't directly touching your plants and inadvertantly causing more damage.

Vuyst has put together an extensive guide on how to protect the plants in your garden and yard.

The real concern this weekend is for the fruit growers of Michigan. Audrey Sebolt, a Horticultural Speciliast with the Michigan Farm Bureau, says they could be facing potentially devastating conditions..

“When we talk about Southwest Michigan, the Benton Harbor area, hopefully the grapes and blueberries will be okay, but the cherries and peaches could experience significant damage... the apples have a potential to be anywhere from 20% or much higher devastated," Sebolt said.

She says some bigger operations will use giant fans or helicopters to heat and circulate the air around their crops, but some will need further assistance in the long-run.

“We had in 2011, about 40% of our fruit growers, primarily apple... had in crop insurance to protect themselves in this event. Whereas today I'm hearing close to 80% of the growers have that economic safety net. It won't replace all the fruit that is lost, but it will get them through this disaster," Sebolt said.