Michigan Food & Agriculture


Michigan Food & Agriculture
4:17 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Warm Up Could Bring Quick Halt To Maple Syrup Season

Joe Woods among his maple trees in Rapid City.
Credit Tom Carr

Warm days and cool nights have the sap running steadily through a web of plastic tubes into Joe Woods' sugar shack in Rapid City.

But the cold winter started things about three weeks late for Woods and other commercial syrup makers in the area.

So far, Woods has produced about 400 gallons, which is about half of an ideal year.

He thinks he may be able to get one more week of good sap.

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Michigan Environment
6:36 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Devastating Disease Found In Michigan Bats

White-nose syndrome is a fungus that attacks bats as they hibernate. They often recover the first year but succumb the next.
Credit USGS

A disease devastating bats throughout the American northeast has now spread to Michigan. White-nose syndrome has been confirmed in three Michigan counties: Alpena, Mackinac and Dickinson. 

Statewide Bat Program Director Bill Scullon explains the bat's importance to Michigan agriculture and why the fungus makes it so hard for bats to survive the harsh Michigan winter.

Bats play a critical role for farms and forests by eating insects, lots of them.

“Bats in Michigan had an economic benefit of $528 million to $1.2 billion dollars for farmers,” says Bill Scullon, the statewide bat program coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

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5:40 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Fruit farmers all over Michigan are getting an idea of what winter has done to orchards

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 2:06 pm

With winter finally behind us, hopefully fruit farmers all over Michigan are getting an idea of what the snow, ice and cold has done to orchards, vineyards and fields.

Knowing that the early spring warm-up of 2012 was devastating to most of Michigan's fruit-growers, we wondered if the rough winter has them just as worried now as they were two years ago.

Ken Nye of the Michigan Farm Bureau joined us.

Listen to the full interview above.

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10:18 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Michigan's maple syrup farming is sweet for the economy

A maple tree is tapped for syrup.

Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 2:27 pm

The first farm crop to be harvested in Michigan is ready. 

Michigan ranks number five in maple syrup production each year, and according to the Michigan Maple Syrup Association, that sweet syrup helps pump nearly $2.5 million into Michigan's economy each year.

But there are plenty of maple trees in Michigan that are not being tapped. So we wondered, if we have all these trees, why aren't more people making maple syrup?

Michael Farrell's book is called The Sugar Makers Companion: An Integrated Approach to Producing Syrup from Maple, Birch, and Walnut Trees.

Farrell joins us today.

Listen to the full interview above. 

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Cherry Industry
3:52 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Cherry Growers' Decision In The Mail

Voting concludes today for tart cherry growers deciding whether they want a controlled market for their fruit. The votes will be counted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For the first time in decades, there appears to be some chance growers could end the complex restrictions on the sale of tart cherries and choose a free and open market instead.

The current marketing order allows an industry board to limit the sale of tart cherries to keep prices stable. Some growers have complained about having to destroy fruit, especially in 2009 when the cherry crop was enormous.

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Cherry Festival
11:46 am
Wed March 26, 2014

2014 Cherry Fest Will Not Have Smoking Sections

Credit Jeremy Sorrells / Flickr

This year’s Cherry Festival in Traverse City will be missing one thing: a smoking section. Smoking corrals will be eliminated from the Open Space in Clinch Park on West Grand Traverse Bay.

The city refused to allow smoking this year. In previous years, the event has been given an exemption from the no smoking rule for the Open Space.

Trevor Tkach, executive director of the National Cherry Festival, says it’s a positive move.

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Invasive Species
5:53 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Judge Throws Out Pig Ban

Credit Peter Payette

A circuit court judge in the Upper Peninsula says Michigan’s ban on wild hogs is unconstitutional. Judge Thomas Solka says there is no way for hog farmers to know whether the pigs they own violate the rule set up by the Department of Natural Resources.

Friday’s ruling is the first substantial opinion in a set of cases that sprang from a rule the DNR made in 2010. It declared certain breeds of pigs an invasive species.

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Michigan Food & Agriculture
5:17 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Help is on the way for Michigan's fragile honeybee population


Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 1:36 pm

This winter has been especially tough for the already-fragile population of Michigan honeybees.

Beekeepers are coping with a nearly decade-long decline in commercial honeybees and their wild cousins. It's called "colony collapse disorder".

Now comes the unrelenting cold of this record-setting winter, and beekeepers in Michigan and other states are reporting staggering losses that could endanger crop production all over the nation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it's spending $3 million on a new program to help honeybees. 

Let's find out why this is so crucial and what it means for Michigan's farmers and beekeepers.

Mike Hansen is the State Apiarist with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

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5:47 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

USDA To Spend $3M To Help Honeybees

Beekeeper Terry Street tends to his bees on his property outside of Kingsley in Oct. 2012.
Credit Candice Ludlow / IPR News

The federal government will spend $3 million dollars to help improve the health of honeybees.

Honeybees have been suddenly disappearing or dying in the last several years, known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Habitat loss and pesticide use have contributed to the declining population. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering interested farmers and ranchers assistance to implement cover crops that honeybees feed on, like alfalfa and clover.

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Feral Pigs
10:29 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Judge Dismisses Lawsuits Over Farming Russian Boar

A packed courtroom in McBain Wednesday. Mark Baker is shown in the front (center). He sits with his wife Jill (left) and Lawyer Michelle Halley (right).
Credit Tom Carr

A judge ruled yesterday that a McBain farmer does not have to pay $700,000 for keeping a banned breed of hog.

But he and other farmers, some who packed the courtroom, worry it could happen again. That's because the decision did not address whether a Michigan invasive species law is fair or not.

Why Farm Russian Boar?

Mark Baker says he had good business reasons to start inter-breeding Russian boar with the pigs on his farm.

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