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Michigan apple crop is devastated

By Lisa Abraham Published: June 28, 2012

There is news from the Michigan Apple Committee that the state's apple crop is nearly an entire loss, due to the winter's unusual weather.

Michigan is the third largest apple-producing state in the country, behind Washington and New York. It is unclear yet how this will affect the price of apples or apple products in the grocery store, but the news obviously won't be positive when the crop was reduced from an average 20 to 23 million bushels to just 3 million estimated for this year.

Roughly 60 percent of the state's crop is used in apple products like juice and apple sauce, while 40 percent is sold ready to eat.

According to the Micigan Apple Committee, the losses can be traced to historic weather events in late winter and spring.

"The historic heat wave Michigan experienced in March brought apple blossoms out early. When the weather cooled back down and orchards experienced frosts and freezes, growers and industry experts knew they were in for a difficult season.

"This spring, farmers used frost fans, orchard heaters and helicopters to battle the extreme weather conditions’ affect on the orchards. While the efforts may have saved some of the crop, we are hearing about significant loss from most areas of the state," Scott Lewis, chair of the Michigan Apple Committee and a New Era, Michigan apple grower, was quoted in a news release from the committee.

Significant crop loss had been predicted, but it wasn’t until trees started to produce fruit, followed by the natural thinning phenomenon known as "June drop" that industry officials were able to make accurate predictions about the crop size.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is calling the apple crop loss "the worst natural disaster to strike Michigan’s agricultural industry in more than 50 years." In May, Snyder requested disaster assistance for Michigan’s fruit growers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and this week signed a bill supporting a low-interest loan program for farmers whose crops have been lost.




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