CHICAGO — Michigan’s apple growers will harvest approximately 20.3 million bushels (852.6 million pounds) of apples this year, according to the official crop estimate announced today at the USApple Outlook meeting in Chicago. This estimate is approximately four million bushels below average. Industry members are pointing to frost damage from the spring on the reduced crop size.
“Unfortunately Michigan Apple growers experienced frost after bloom in May that caused damage to many blossoms. This translates to damaged fruit,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “While the crop is down, we are still looking at about 20.3 million bushels. The bottom line is, there will still be plenty of Michigan Apples for consumers to enjoy this year.”
For Michigan Apple growers, a long winter and a spring with gradually rising temperatures is ideal. However, the spring frosts are not uncommon.
“While freezing temperatures during blossom time are not ideal, it’s certainly not a new challenge for growers. There are many ways to protect orchards from the cold. Frost fans, spraying with water, and controlled fires are just a few of the methods growers use to keep orchards a few degrees warmer,” Smith said.
When growers plan and plant their orchards, frost pockets and high and low areas are taken into consideration. In addition, growers have an arsenal of frost-protection tools for situations like these low-temperature times in the spring. In fact, even hearty apple trees have their own protections in place for cool spring nights.
In 2016, Michigan growers harvested a robust 28 million bushels of apples, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. There are more than 11.3 million apple trees in commercial production, covering 35,500 acres on 825 family-run farms in Michigan.
The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded nonprofit organization devoted to marketing, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption in Michigan and around the world. For more information, visit MichiganApples.com.
— The Michigan Apple Committee
For more news from Michigan, click here.