cherries

Aaron Selbig

A group in Antrim County has been working for more than a decade to connect a bike trail between Suttons Bay and Harbor Springs. But now, a northern Michigan legislator says the path could harm the agriculture industry.

Last week, Representative Triston Cole of Mancelona took a road trip along the section that would extend Traverse City’s TART Trail north along U.S. Highway 31 to Elk Rapids. He brought with him Representative Tom Barrett – the chair of the House Agriculture Committee – and they heard from local farmers.

Michigan's farmers and growers are always looking for new and bigger markets for their products.
 
The Michigan Farm Bureau thinks they should look at China, where there is growing interest in what Michigan's farms have to offer.

Aaron Selbig

Tart cherry growers in northern Michigan are hoping the Trump administration can help them get a leg up in the juice market.

The past few days have seen unseasonable cold across much of Michigan, with temperatures falling below freezing in many parts of the state. A late freeze like this one threatens Michigan’s fruit crop at a crucial time in its annual cycle.

NORTHWEST MICHIGAN HORTICULTURE RESEARCH CENTER

The tart cherry harvest has begun in northern Michigan. The cherry crop is large this year, but growers are dealing with rising numbers of spotted wing drosophila as they harvest.

Drosophila is a tiny insect that originally came from Asia. The bugs have found a home in Michigan in recent years, and their numbers have been growing.

Nikki Rothwell is coordinator of the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center. She’s been studying spotted wing drosophila.

Jim Nugent says growers are spraying a lot more this year.

Peter Payette

Fruit growers have a new problem: they can’t buy enough young trees to plant in their orchards.

This is especially true for cherry farmers in Michigan who depend on nurseries in the Pacific Northwest. It could get worse, and some farmers are preparing for a day when they can’t buy any trees.

Ben LaCross was supposed to be planting 6,000 sweet cherry trees this spring at his farm near Maple City. He ordered the trees from a nursery in Oregon three years ago, but there was some unusual weather there that fall.

From two big snow storms one week to temperatures flirting with 70 degrees the next, Michigan weather does its best to keep us on our toes.

As we stripped off our boots and winter coats in favor of shorts and t-shirts this week, it brought back memories of this time a few years ago. March 2012 saw  temperatures climb into the 80s before reality set back in, with 19 straight nights of freezing temperatures. 

While that temperature swing forced many of us to begrudgingly return to our scarves and gloves, it absolutely devastated Michigan’s cherry crop.

Aaron Selbig

The future of Michigan’s cherry industry may be tied to what happens in the courtroom.

An Elk Rapids cherry processor is suing the federal government over its power to regulate the industry. The man who filed the lawsuit is encouraged by a recent decision from the U.S. Supreme Court involving raisins.

    

Bill Sherman has run Burnette Foods with his brothers for 59 years. Way in the back of his factory are rows of pallets, stacked floor to ceiling with thousands of cans of pie filling. It’s pie filling that Sherman can’t sell.

Spring came early in Michigan three years ago — very early — and fruit crops were later wiped out by frost. That has some researchers in Lansing asking if there's a way to delay the spring bloom in a warm year.

It's no secret what cause a cherry or apple blossom to come out in the spring — warmth. So if you want to slow down that process you just spray cold water on the tree.

Committee to look at Cherry Festival changes

Nov 11, 2014

A special committee will consider making long-term changes to the National Cherry Festival. Traverse City commissioners decided last night to form the committee, which will work with festival organizers on potential changes.

Those changes could include forcing moving the festival’s dates away from the Fourth of July weekend. The committee is also likely to ask organizers to shorten the amount of time the festival occupies city parkland.

Commissioner Jim Carruthers says the festival takes too long to set-up and take down.

Get this, 75% of the nation's tart cherries are grown in Michigan, most of that in the northwest Lower Peninsula.

But every year the industry that brings us cherry pies and the Traverse City Cherry Festival faces restrictions set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ron French, the Senior Writer for Bridge Magazine, said because so many tart cherries are grown in such a small area, the weather can greatly affect the crop. So the USDA puts a limit on the percentage of Michigan's tart cherry crop that can be sold so prices don't swing too dramatically.

“The result of that is that in some years as much as one half or more in cherries produced in Michigan is left rotting on the ground,” French said.

Most growers favor restrictions, but one food processing company in Elk Rapids is suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

French said Elk Rapids is hoping to remove the restrictions on cherries completely.

Cherry Marketing Institute

Sleep has become a prominent health issue in the United States and that’s good news for tart cherry growers. For years, the industry has focused its promotional efforts on the health benefits of tart cherries. Now it’s reaching out to people fighting insomnia.

Sleep problems are such a big deal these days that there’s a hotel in Manhattan that has a sleep program. This fall the cherry industry put on a media event with health and food writers to explain the benefits of tart cherries.

Tart cherry growers are set to make a major decision about their industry’s future. They'll decide whether they’d prefer to sell their fruit on a free market or a controlled one.

Most of the nation's tart cherries are grown between Charlevoix and Hart. Yesterday, in Traverse City, industry leaders urged keeping the controls in place. The system allows some control over the supply of tart cherries to keep prices up. The federal marketing order that allows this is up for renewal which means growers have to vote on it.