The weather to date in 2012 has been anything but normal. We had an extremely mild winter, and summer-like temperatures for a third of the month of March, causing fruit trees to bloom a month early. The twenty freezing events in late March and April left most of Michigan, as well as the eastern US, with record low fruit crop potential for 2012. News reports have been bleak, and many consumers don’t know whether they will be able to find fruit this summer and fall. While we have been severely affected by the weather this spring, we will have most of our fruits available at our market this summer, although there will not be abundant quantities of many fruits.
On our farm, we battled the spring frosts wiwth everything we had at our disposal. We have several large frost fans in some of our Honeycrisp orchards. We burned firewood several nights in combination with the frost fans to try to add heat to prevent damage to the flower buds. We also sprayed micronutrients and seaweed extract on the trees to try to help the hardiness of the buds. A number of our friends were praying for us. After all is said and done, this is what we will have available at the market this year (as far as we can tell on June 15).
Sweet cherries: We have some sweet cherries that survived the spring. If we don’t get cracking rains, we should have sweet cherries available from June 15 until July 1, and maybe into the week of July 4th. All of our earliest and latest varieties of sweet cherries froze, so the season will be short.
Tart cherries: We will have Montmorency cherries at the market from late June until early July. Balaton will be available in early July, in limited quantities.
Plums: A few varieties made it through. Plums will be available periodically, in very limited quantities, beginning in mid-July. (Apricots froze out completely).
Peaches: We lost the total crop in two of our three orchards of peaches, including most late-season varieties. Many of our Flamin’ Fury, Bellaire, Red Haven, Starfire, Beaumont, and Harrow Beauty, as well as nectarines, survived in one of our orchards. We expect to have peaches at the market from mid-July through mid-August, and nectarines from mid-July through late August.
Apples: Although we lost several varieties of apples, we expect to have adequate supplies of SweeTango(R), Honeycrisp, Gala, Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Earligold, Ginger Gold, Mutsu and Zestar! to meet demand at the market. We lost some other varieties entirely, including McIntosh and Red Delicious, but we will try to get some from other growers in Oceana County to have at our market to meet your needs. We expect to have some apples available at the market through the entire fall season, but will not have as many varieties as we usually do.