Points North, Ep. 4: 'Sci-fi' virus to help cherries

Mar 14, 2019

This week on Points North, a bacteria called cherry canker is attacking sweet cherry trees nationwide, but one Michigan scientist is developing a solution. Plus, how a new bill could help tart cherry farmers compete with cheap Turkish cherry imports.

Killer viruses could help Michigan cherry farmers
Jim Bardenhagen, a fifth generation farmer, on his property in Suttons Bay.
Credit Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

Bacterial canker is a devastating tree disease that affects sweet cherry orchards around the country. There’s currently no good way to treat it, but Michigan scientists are trying to harness bacteria-killing viruses to help farmers keep it under control.

Learn more about how scientists are tackling the disease.


Cherry farmers want federal help in trade dispute with Turkey

Ben LaCross of Leelanau Fruit Company prunes a young cherry tree.
Credit Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

For the past decade, Americans have been buying tart cherries from Turkey for cheap. Tart cherry farmers in Michigan say that’s hurting their bottom line, and they’re hoping a new bill in Washington will balance the scales.

Hear about the trade dispute and how tariffs may level the playing field.

Wassailing in a bountiful apple harvest
Fireworks during Tandem Ciders' annual wassail.
Credit Fred Keeslar

Last year, Michigan apple growers had a record harvest. Modern technology is a big part of their success. But since ancient times, English apple growers have held a special ceremony to try to ensure a bountiful harvest. It’s called a wassail – a term that goes all the way back to the Vikings. Tandems Ciders, a hard cider company in Suttons Bay, held their 10th annual wassail this winter.


This story was produced for Red Pine Radio – a community radio workshop sponsored by IPR.

We want to hear from you:

The wassailing story got us thinking, what are your traditions as a community, with family or friends? We hope you’ll share them with us by calling our comment line at 231-276-4444, emailing a voice memo to ipr@interlochen.org or posting your thoughts below.