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Late-season polar vortex could damage Michigan's fruit tree crops

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
This photo taken on May 7th in Lenawee County shows fruit trees in bloom. Freezing temperatures could damage the crop.

Temperatures could dip below freezing Friday night across Michigan, breaking records for this time of year. 

Credit NOAA/National Weather Service
A late-season polar vortex is forecast to cause temperatures in Michigan to drop below freezing.

A late-season polar vortex is predicted to sweep across the state and much of the northeast of the U.S. With the arctic blast could come record low temperatures.

The cold could hurt fruit crops which are in bloom in some lower parts of the state and budding elsewhere.

Phil Schwallier is with the Michigan State University Extension and is a fruit tree grower at Schwallier’s Country Basket near Sparta.

“The major concern is that we have significant damage on our blossoms from this cold temperature. But, we’re crossing our fingers and hoping it won't be as severe as the temperatures would indicate,” Schwallier says.

Sweet cherries and tart cherries will likely face the most damage. Apples and pears are more hardy, but could also be hurt. The southern part of the state could see the most damage because trees are blooming or farther along in budding.

"I’m going to guess that this event might have 10 or 20% crop loss if it gets as cold as forecast,” Schwallier said.

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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