U.S.: Michigan apple forecast reflects spring frost damage - FreshFruitPortal.com

U.S.: Michigan apple forecast reflects spring frost damage

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U.S.: Michigan apple forecast reflects spring frost damage

Michigan's apple growers are expected to harvest approximately 20.3 million bushels (852.6 million pounds) of apples this year, according to the official crop estimate announced Friday at the USApple Outlook meeting in Chicago. 

This estimate is approximately four million bushels below average, according to a release from the Michigan Apple Committee.

It is also 28% down on last year's large crop of 28 million bushels.

The significant reduction is attributed to severe frost damage experienced during the spring.

“Unfortunately Michigan Apple growers experienced frost after bloom in May that caused damage to many blossoms. This translates to damaged fruit,” Michigan Apple Committee executive director Diane Smith.

“While the crop is down, we are still looking at about 20.3 million bushels. The bottom line is, there will still be plenty of Michigan Apples for consumers to enjoy this year.”

For Michigan Apple growers, a long winter and a spring with gradually rising temperatures is ideal. However, the spring frosts are not uncommon.

“While freezing temperatures during blossom time are not ideal, it’s certainly not a new challenge for growers," Smith said.

"There are many ways to protect orchards from the cold. Frost fans, spraying with water, and controlled fires are just a few of the methods growers use to keep orchards a few degrees warmer."

When growers plan and plant their orchards, frost pockets and high and low areas are taken into consideration, the release said.

In addition, growers have an arsenal of frost-protection tools for situations like these low-temperature times in the spring. 

In 2016, Michigan growers harvested a robust 28 million bushels of apples, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Washington State's initial forecast for fresh apples is 1% down year-on-year at 131.9 million bushels, while the total U.S. crop for fresh and processed is projected to be its fifth-largest in history.

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