The weather this year has been pretty far from the norm. I have delayed in commenting because it is so hard to predict how this will turn out. Monday night the temp dropped to 23f. There was a breeze and it stayed well below freezing for hours. As of today on Wednesday I would say that we have suffered significant damage to the tart cherry crop across the Northern most areas that grow tarts. I don’t know yet if there will some for upick and fresh eating, but I can see that most of the buds have cold injury. Remarkably the sweet cherries came through that cold with only minimal cold injury so we are still hopeful for a sweet crop. The apples have some damage but I don’t yet know if it is significant.
Michigan State Extension says that the very warm March temps moved the fruit trees ahead 5 weeks. This is completely new territory. The fruit trees came out of dormancy and the fruit buds began to grow. Apricots are in bloom now and sweet cherries are starting to bloom. Tarts are still several days away. Apples are coming fast but they bloom later than the stone fruit. The developing blossoms and the open blossoms can take some cold but as we get below 29f the amount of damage begins to grow. Long term weather forecasts were for slightly higher temps in April but the forecast for the next 14 days is for “cooler more seasonable temps”. So for the next few weeks we will probably have more frost events which will further limit fruit potential.
Getting the bees here has been a big challenge for our bee keeper DeKorne Apiaries. Dan had to pull bees out of areas in Florida before they were finished there so that he could get some on a truck to Michigan in time to catch the sweet cherry bloom. The driver just called and we are headed over to unload pallets of bees and spread them in our orchard.
Last we are going to need daytime temps that reach at least 60 so that the bees move and so that the pollen can move in the flower and fertilize it. I would have said no way will this all come together any other year, but this year was so warm I am still hopeful that we will get some fruit to the finish line.