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Michigan cherry, apple growers report solid harvest in 2014

Nov 8, 2014

Michigan apple growers have been changing their orchards so they're easier to pick and produce more apples per acre.
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s apple and cherry growers are happy with this year’s crop.

It’s been a roller coaster ride for apple growers. They had the worst year on record two years ago because of an early freeze. But they had the best year on record last fall, despite a major labor shortage.

“Some of the workers found other opportunities and maybe didn’t come back and it was just kind of getting back into the grove of things. This year it wasn’t as bad. We did have some shortages here and there but not widespread like we saw in the 2013 crop,” Diane Smith, director of the Michigan Apple Committee said.

Smith says apple growers pulled in 25 million bushels this fall, about three million than previously predicted.

But Smith says growers have been able to get more money for apples because they’ve been able to sell them fresh to markets instead of to processors who turn them into apple sauce and juice.

“They’re just using the land a little bit more efficiently, using trellis systems and such to make sure they get optimal performance out of the trees,” she said.

Michigan is the third-largest apple producer, behind New York and Washington.

While apple growers brought in a little less fruit than they expected, cherry growers beat expectations, bringing in more than 200 million pounds. That's more than two-thirds of the nation's tart cherry harvest.