Late-season polar vortex could damage Michigan's fruit tree crops | Michigan Radio

Late-season polar vortex could damage Michigan's fruit tree crops

May 7, 2020

Temperatures could dip below freezing Friday night across Michigan, breaking records for this time of year. 

A late-season polar vortex is forecast to cause temperatures in Michigan to drop below freezing.
Credit NOAA/National Weather Service

A late-season polar vortex is predicted to sweep across the state and much of the northeast of the U.S. With the arctic blast could come record low temperatures.

The cold could hurt fruit crops which are in bloom in some lower parts of the state and budding elsewhere.

Phil Schwallier is with the Michigan State University Extension and is a fruit tree grower at Schwallier’s Country Basket near Sparta.

“The major concern is that we have significant damage on our blossoms from this cold temperature. But, we’re crossing our fingers and hoping it won't be as severe as the temperatures would indicate,” Schwallier says.

Sweet cherries and tart cherries will likely face the most damage. Apples and pears are more hardy, but could also be hurt. The southern part of the state could see the most damage because trees are blooming or farther along in budding.

"I’m going to guess that this event might have 10 or 20% crop loss if it gets as cold as forecast,” Schwallier said.

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