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Weather, strength of dollar, challenge Michigan cherry growers

Scott Schopieray

This weekend cherry growers in southwest Michigan will begin to harvest their crop.

Despite a hard freeze in late May, Michigan is expected to produce 134 million pounds of tart cherries, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  That’s about a third less than last year, but still, more than any other state.

Phil Korson is president of the Cherry Marketing Institute. He says growers shouldn’t have problems meeting orders.

“We had some inventory carry over from last year, and the crop last year was just literally fantastic; a beautiful crop,” Korson said.

Korson says growers in northwest Michigan got the worst of the bad weather. Last year the region produced 137 million pounds of tart cherries. This year 74 million pounds is expected from the region.

Producers are keeping an eye on the rising value of the dollar. It makes cherries and other U.S. exports more expensive in other countries.

“I really think that crop and the pack that we can do and grow here, and that we can process here we’re the best in the world and that helps us on the export markets when we go to sell,” he said.

Korson says Michigan cherry processors are really good at detecting cherry pits. That creates a more valuable product to export.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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