Warm Temperatures Have West Michigan Farmers Concerned
This week has been a lot of fun. Golfers are getting in some early practice, grass is greening, trees are budding, and sunscreen has become a necessity. But it’s not all good news.
This early warm-up has West Michigan farmers concerned.
My kids have already been outside in the kiddie pool this year…twice. Most people have been taking advantage of the weather however they can: golfing, yard work, walks, prepping the deck, etc. But farmers are worried.
With fruit trees are budding, one hard freeze could wipe out an entire crop.
The Robinette family owns 40 acres of fruit trees in Grand Rapids Township. Ed Robinette says this season is about three and a half weeks ahead of schedule; it’s the earliest growing season he’s seen.
“What it does is the trees are going to wake up and start to bud, and it will put us at risk of frost damage for a longer period than normal,” said Robinette. “It’s too early, but there’s nothing we can do about it. As one grower said the other day, we’re just along for the ride.”
Maple syrup farmers rely on a cold winter for good production.
The Michigan Farm Bureau noted in its AgriNotes & News publication earlier this month that for all the attention to fruit farmers, it’s the state’s maple syrup producers, who rely on cold winters to prompt the rise and fall of sap within their trees, who might be the most at risk.
Asparagus farmers face the prospect of not having enough seasonal workers to harvest their crop.
The first asparagus stalks are just about to break through the ground and ready for harvest by the first week of April.
That early arrival may not be good news. John Bakker of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board tells WZZM 13, “To say that they (asparagus farmers) are concerned would be an understatement.”
Bakker and other farmers have no idea how they’ll get their crop to market. The seasonal workers who arrive here each year from Texas don’t leave that state until their children get out of school. “Kids are in school, they will not want to come up here yet” says Bakker.
By that time asparagus farmers might have to resort to leaving it in their fields to rot.
Plenty to be concerned about, but not a lot that can be done in the short term. Like Ed Robinette (producer of one of the best drinks in West Michigan) said, whatever happens, farmers are “just along for the ride” this year.