Fruit crops vulnerable to frost risk

A record-setting warm winter has put fruit in the Midwest’s top-producing state at risk. 

“It not only broke the record, it really shattered it.”

Michigan climatologist Jeff Andresen tells Brownfield winter temperatures in the Great Lakes state were more than 10 degrees warmer than ever recorded.

“This has been the warmest winter we’ve had on record since at least in 1895, almost 130 years,” he says. “December of last year was the warmest December on record, February of this year was the warmest February on record, and January was the 4th warmest.”

He says while there haven’t been prolonged stretches of heat waves like in 2012, fruit crops broke dormancy about a month ahead of normal.

“What we probably have set ourselves up for is an extended period of risk for seeing problems with cold injury, because everything came out early,” he says.

Temperatures near freezing and below cause the most damage to tree fruit. But Andresen says outlooks suggest those conditions should be limited with more normal-like weather in the forecast.

AUDIO: Michigan climatologist Jeff Andresen

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