Environment
12:45 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Michigan fruit crops threatened by prolonged warm weather

The unseasonably warm weather could jeopardize Michigan’s fruit crops.

While it's not unusual to have warm spells in early spring, it is unusual is for temperatures to average 40 degrees higher than normal for several weeks.

Matthew Grieshop  is an assistant professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Entomology.

He says this heat wave, along with a bumper crop of insects that didn’t die over the winter and an eventual freeze, pose a triple threat to the state's fruit farmers.

"This is pretty much unprecedented," Grieshop says. "It was back in the early 40s that we last had weather like this, and based on our experience, it looks pretty grim for the fruit growers."

Grieshop says fruit trees are blooming almost a month early, but without cool nights, the fruit won’t mature.

Fruit farmers closer to the Great Lakes, Grieshop says, are typically somewhat insulated from the threat of a heavy freeze because the thermal mass of the water moderates the temperature shifts.