fruit http://michiganradio.org en Michigan apple growers changing orchards, adding technology to boost production http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-apple-growers-changing-orchards-adding-technology-boost-production <p>In West Michigan, it&rsquo;s apple harvest time. That may conjure up images of picturesque orchards and old-fashioned fun. But modern technologies are playing a bigger role in the business side of the apple harvest.</p><p>Right now it&rsquo;s crunch time for growers like Rob Steffens. He&rsquo;s got 280 acres of apple trees in Sparta; a part of West Michigan&rsquo;s fertile &ldquo;fruit ridge&rdquo; northwest of Grand Rapids.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Apple orchards are changing</strong></p> Thu, 17 Oct 2013 13:58:47 +0000 Lindsey Smith 14720 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan apple growers changing orchards, adding technology to boost production It’s official: 2012 worst year on record for Michigan cherry growers http://michiganradio.org/post/it-s-official-2012-worst-year-record-michigan-cherry-growers <p>You probably know 2012 was just horrible for Michigan’s fruit growers. But <a href="http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Michigan/Publications/Current_News_Release/nr1308.pdf">new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture </a>shows it was officially the worst on record since tracking began – in 1925. &nbsp;</p><p>There were only 11.6 million pounds of tart cherries produced in Michigan, usually the nation’s top producer of the fruit. That’s a 92 percent drop from last year’s 157.5 million pounds.</p><p>Marty Saffell is a USDA statistician based in the Michigan office in Lansing.</p><p>“For some of the fruits like peaches pears plums and cherries there are the majority of the growers had essentially zero crops so there was essentially zero income,” Saffell said.</p><p>Saffell says Michigan apple growers had the worst year since 1945.</p><p></p><p> Tue, 29 Jan 2013 22:12:33 +0000 Lindsey Smith 10995 at http://michiganradio.org It’s official: 2012 worst year on record for Michigan cherry growers Financial help could be coming for Michigan's fruit farmers http://michiganradio.org/post/financial-help-could-be-coming-michigans-fruit-farmers <p>Fruit growers and processors in Michigan might get some help in the form of low interest loans if an expected package of bills moves through the legislature.</p><p>The loans are aimed at providing relief to those who lost most of their fruit crops after an unusual spring warm spell was followed by extended freezing temperatures.</p><p><a href="http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2012/05/fruit_growers_and_processors_m.html#incart_river_default">MLive</a> reports Michigan Department of Agriculture Director Keith Creagh said today the bills would create &quot;five-year low interest loans&quot;:</p><blockquote><p>The loans, which will be administered by banks and agricultural lenders, will meet an estimated total economic need of some $300 million in the state&rsquo;s fruit growing and processing industry, Creagh said while attending the Michigan Food Processing and Agribusiness Summit.</p><p>Securing the loan guarantees at a low interest rate of 1 percent or 2 percent could cost the state about $15 million, Creagh said. The 5-year loans would be structured so borrowers would only pay interest in the first two years, he said.</p></blockquote><p>Creagh says he&#39;ll also seek federal financial support for Michigan fruit growers and processors. Wed, 23 May 2012 16:06:25 +0000 Mark Brush 7580 at http://michiganradio.org Financial help could be coming for Michigan's fruit farmers Northern Michigan fruit growers brace for a changing climate http://michiganradio.org/post/northern-michigan-fruit-growers-brace-changing-climate <p><em>by Bob Allen for The Environment Report</em></p><p>Warmer temperatures and melting snow are less than ideal for winter sports and outdoor festivals. But the weird weather has northern Michigan fruit growers holding their breath, hoping to avoid disaster.</p><p>In his more than 20 years as an agricultural extension agent in the Traverse City area, Duke Elsner says this is the most bizarre winter weather he&rsquo;s ever seen.</p><p>&ldquo;The ups and downs have just been remarkable. The inability to hang on to a cold period for any length of time has been very strange.&rdquo;</p><p>A gradual drop in temperature at the beginning of winter and holding there below freezing for long periods are the ideal conditions for plant to become frost hardy, and hardiness is what protects them from getting damaged by cold.</p><p>But when temps bounce up into the 40&rsquo;s and 50&rsquo;s as they&rsquo;ve done frequently this winter, some of that hardiness is lost.</p><p>&ldquo;Our trees and vines can take below zero in a normal winter. I sure wouldn&rsquo;t want to drop below zero at this point in time, I&rsquo;ll say that.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s fruit grower Jim Nugent. He and a couple of his neighbors are doing the yearly chore of pruning his cherry trees.&nbsp; With long-handled saws, they reach up eight or ten feet to strip away branches and limbs.</p><p>Nugent knows his orchard is vulnerable right now because of a loss of winter hardiness. But there&rsquo;s not a lot he can do about it.</p><p>Things could go either way at this point.</p><p>A sudden drop to zero would be serious.</p><p>But orchards still may slide by unscathed. If temps gradually drop below freezing and stay there, trees will regain some of their hardiness.</p><p> Thu, 09 Feb 2012 14:30:00 +0000 Michigan Radio Newsroom 6155 at http://michiganradio.org Northern Michigan fruit growers brace for a changing climate Michigan apple growers expecting a great crop this year http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-apple-growers-expecting-great-crop-year <p>Not only will there be way more Michigan apples this year, they&rsquo;ll probably be bigger and better looking too.</p><p>According to estimates from the United States Department of Agriculture, Michigan apple growers are likely to produce 26.1 million bushels this season. The 5 year average is 19.5 million bushels. Only Washington and New York state grow more.</p><p>Denise Donohue is the Executive Director of the Michigan Apple Committee.</p> Wed, 07 Sep 2011 03:02:31 +0000 Lindsey Smith 4050 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan apple growers expecting a great crop this year MSU professors mapping 'urban food deserts' http://michiganradio.org/post/msu-professors-mapping-urban-food-deserts <p><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert">&lsquo;Food deserts&rsquo; </a>are a growing problem in Michigan cities. Two Michigan State University professors believe they have an idea that might help.</p><p>&#39;Food deserts&rsquo; are created when local supermarkets close and there&rsquo;s no place where people can walk to buy fruits, vegetables and other fresh food.</p><p>MSU professors <a href="https://www.msu.edu/~howardp/">Phil Howard</a> and <a href="http://www.geo.msu.edu/faculty/goldsberry.html">Kirk Goldsberry</a> wanted to see how bad the problem is in Lansing. Goldsberry says he was surprised that large sections of the capitol city are &lsquo;food deserts&rsquo;. He says, in many cases, if you want fresh food, you must drive to Lansing&rsquo;s suburbs.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;The suburbanization of groceries has placed our best markets in commercially zoned in non-residential, automobile oriented areas.&nbsp; Essentially geographically separating our best produce sections from our most densely populated neighborhoods.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></blockquote><p><a href="http://www.geo.msu.edu/food/media/atlas/atlas.htm">The MSU professors have created an interactive map showing Lansing&rsquo;s &lsquo;urban food deserts&rsquo;.</a> They hope to create similar &lsquo;food desert&rsquo; maps for Flint, Grand Rapids and other US cities.</p><p>Goldsberry says communities need to encourage more urban gardens and farmers markets to fill the gap in urban &lsquo;food deserts&rsquo;. Fri, 04 Mar 2011 18:28:20 +0000 Steve Carmody 1510 at http://michiganradio.org MSU professors mapping 'urban food deserts'