The weather has been the main topic of conversation in the produce industry already this season. For growers, unusually warm, record-setting winter months have led to early bloom. Early bloom = larger frost window. 

Frost has already damaged early blooms across the nation, with the worst of the damage hitting the Midwest. Northern Michigan, which is home to the vast majority of the nation’s tart cherries, has been hit hard with frost, affecting as much as 80-90% of this year’s cherry bloom (AP via Mlive).

This not only affects growers, but also consumers, retail markets, and many other business that depend on a healthy growing season (farm & package supply, trade shows, marketing, insurance, etc). Smaller crops may mean higher prices for consumers at grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries, and markets. In the hardest hit areas, many of our customers have mentioned shortening or even cancelling U-Pick seasons altogether.

Luckily, many farms are equipped to handle drops in temperature. Wind machines are used to circulate air, light irrigation are used on some crops to reduce freezing point, heat and fire are used to raise temperatures, all ways to reduce damage. Luckily, even in the hardest hit areas, a small bloom can still yield a sizeable crop. Growers on Michigan’s apple “Ridge” even used helicopters during an overnight freeze in April to push warm air on their apple trees (via Mlive).

There is a reason growers often compare farming to “gambling.” Despite all the science and technology that goes into growing, we are always subject to the rules of the House (i.e. Mother Nature).  

How has the weather affected your business or crop this year? Share your stories in our comment section. 

Wishing you a great season,
Rockford Package Supply

 

Sources:

http://www.wzzm13.com/news/regional/208539/5/Cherry-crop-hurt-by-cold-weather
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2012/04/11/fruit-growers-nervous-after-early-blooms.html
http://www.crh.noaa.gov/arx/?n=2012marchwarmth
http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/15/10702082-midwest-in-bulls-eye-for-record-high-temps
http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2012/04/sparta_apple_growers_hire_heli.html
http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2012/04/strawberry_growers_running_nig.html
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/85-116.htm