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Environment & Climate Change

Northern Michigan cherry farmers brace for smaller harvest for the second year in a row

tart cherries hanging on a tree, ready for harvest
barmalini
/
Adobe Stock

For the second year in a row, northern Michigan’s tart cherry farmers are expecting a small harvest — less than half as much as 2019’s crop.

Allen Steimel is the general manager at Leelanau Fruit Company. He says low rainfall Up North is stunting the cherries’ growth.

“The drought, it’s gonna affect the size of the individual fruit. What we’re seeing right now is the cherries look fairly small.”

Early warming in March followed by repeated frosts resulted in fewer cherries on the trees. A summer drought up north has only made matters worse.

Many farmers don’t have a lot left in their frozen stock after a bad 2020 harvest, so there could be a tart cherry shortage this year.

A recent Michigan tart cherry forecast projected this year’s yield at about 65 million pounds.

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