fruit

Cherry canker has prevented this sweet cherry tree from fruiting this year. The blossoms in the foreground are an attempt by the tree to reproduce after the spring blossoms were destroyed by the infection.
Peter Payette / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, how climate change is causing diseases to thrive in Michigan’s fruit crops. Plus, winemakers Up North pursue more disease-resistant grapes.

 


The Montmorency tart cherry is pretty much the only sour cherry grown in the U.S. And cherry growers in Michigan know the tree really well. It was brought here from France a couple of hundred years ago. "This is older than most people think of as heirloom varieties and it's our main variety to this day," says Jim Nugent, a cherry grower in northern Michigan.

Peter Payette

Fruit growers have a new problem: they can’t buy enough young trees to plant in their orchards.

This is especially true for cherry farmers in Michigan who depend on nurseries in the Pacific Northwest. It could get worse, and some farmers are preparing for a day when they can’t buy any trees.

Ben LaCross was supposed to be planting 6,000 sweet cherry trees this spring at his farm near Maple City. He ordered the trees from a nursery in Oregon three years ago, but there was some unusual weather there that fall.

From two big snow storms one week to temperatures flirting with 70 degrees the next, Michigan weather does its best to keep us on our toes.

As we stripped off our boots and winter coats in favor of shorts and t-shirts this week, it brought back memories of this time a few years ago. March 2012 saw  temperatures climb into the 80s before reality set back in, with 19 straight nights of freezing temperatures. 

While that temperature swing forced many of us to begrudgingly return to our scarves and gloves, it absolutely devastated Michigan’s cherry crop.

The spotted wing drosophila is a nasty invasive fruit fly that's turning into a nightmare for Michigan berry growers.

Blueberries and cherries are major cash crops in the state.

Kevin Robson is a horticulture specialist with the Michigan Farm Bureau. He says the fly showed up in Michigan five years ago.