Mich. fruit growers seem to have less frost damage

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Entertainment,Food and Drink

SPARTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Michigan fruit tree growers who suffered devastating freeze losses one year ago seem to have sustained less serious damage from this week's late frost.

Growers took extraordinary steps ahead of Monday's frost and freeze warnings, using helicopters, wind machines, orchard heaters and bonfires to keep the cold temperatures from nipping blossoms.

Some apple trees in southeastern Michigan had "as much as 50 to 60 percent bud kill," Michigan State University extension agent Bob Tritten said in a report.

"There is a chance that these blocks can still have a decent crop of apples this season if we don't get more cold weather," Tritten said. "Freeze damage is extremely variable across east Michigan."

In western Michigan, Don Armock said his sweet cherry and apple crops look good for this season. He's an owner of Riveridge Produce Marketing and Fruit Ridge Farm Market in Sparta Township, north of Grand Rapids.

"At this point, we have a strong-looking crop on the trees and we're cautiously optimistic about the weather," MLive.com quoted Armock as saying of the cherry trees. "While sweet cherries blossomed a few days later than normal, the warm temperatures that followed make it likely that we'll harvest right on time — just at or after the Fourth of July."

Tree fruit growers in Michigan sustained devastating losses in 2012 when a hard freeze followed an early thaw, wiping out much of the year's tart cherry crop and heavily damaging the sweet cherry crop.

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Online:

Fruit crop report: http://bit.ly/148qb90

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