Grim reports coming in
of tart cherry frost damage
Northern Michigan's tart cherry growers are starting to report serious damage from a hard freeze that followed a late-winter heat wave.
A weeklong hot spell in mid-March triggered widespread budding well ahead of normal. Then typical cold weather returned, with temperatures dipping into the 20s on the night of March 25.
Longtime Leelanau County fruit farmer Dave Alpers has 550 acres of tart cherries and 100 acres of sweet cherries in Leland and Suttons Bay townships, about 15 miles north of Traverse City.
He's finding 80 to 90 percent of the buds on the area's tart cherries have been killed, as have about 40 to 60 percent of the apple buds.
The northwestern Lower Peninsula produces about four-fifths of U.S. tart cherries.