May 15, 2013
NPR’s Noah Adams visited “The Ridge” to see how the apple crop was faring in 2013 after the devastation of 2012. The engaging 4 minute piece looks at methods they use to battle frost and how last year’s 99% wipeout hurt farmers. It’s well worth your time, but if you’re looking for the punch-line, the crop appears to have the potential for full harvest.
The Ridge Economic Agricultural Partners (REAP) explain:
Fruit Ridge or “the Ridge” is a topographical land feature located NW of Grand Rapids, Michigan and considered to be an agricultural mecca. The glaciers of long ago left behind gently rolling slopes. The deposits were fertile clay loam soils with excellent moisture holding qualities that provided great soil and terrain for the growing of premium fruits, vegetables and the raising of livestock, including buffalo.
Approximately 8 miles wide by 20 miles long, the Fruit Ridge is regarded as one of the prime fruit-growing regions in the world. Elevations greater than 800 feet and its location (about 25 miles from Lake Michigan), creates a unique climate (ideal growing and moderate winters) for fruit production. The Ridge supplies 60% of the states (Michigan) apples. An estimated 66% of the Ridge lies in Kent County, all within 20 miles of downtown Grand Rapids.
“The Ridge” is an area of 158 square miles (8 miles wide and 20 miles long) covering 7 townships and 4 counties: Kent (Alpine, Sparta, Tyrone), Newago (Ashland), Muskegon (Casnovia) and Ottawa (Chester and Wright).
The National Weather Service noted that the high temperature yesterday at the Otsego County Airport in Gaylord only reached 35 degrees – a new record for the coldest high temperature for the date that crushed the previous record of 44 degrees from 2003. It was also the coldest high temperature ever recorded in the month of May for Gaylord. They notched a record snowfall of 2 inches as well, beating the old record of 1 inch from 1971.
Temperatures dipped into the 20s across the state last night. Although the word isn’t in yet about the effect those temps have had, an mLive article about the apple crop on Fruit Ridge explains:
As fruit trees begin to develop and blossom each spring, their ability to withstand cold temperatures is greatly reduced. As bloom nears, temperatures in the upper 20-degree can cause considerable damage to early blooming crop varieties.
Currently on the area’s Fruit Ridge — a band of ideal growing land northwest of Grand Rapids — several different varieties of apples are in bloom, said Armock. Also, sweet cherries are nearly past bloom in some areas, he said. Tart cherries are in the flowering stage of bloom, as well as some varieties of strawberries and blueberries.
In fact, across the state, growers have been making preparations for “potentially the largest crop of apples and cherries that we’ve ever seen,” said Armock, who estimated the 2013 crop could yield between 30 and 34 million bushels of apples this year, from Traverse City down to the state line.
Read on for more, and here’s hoping their efforts at bringing in helicopters last night paid off. After the near total destruction of the apple, tart cherry and other crops last year, it would be a hard blow to stand.
April 30, 2013
Michigan reached the 100 winery mark in 2013, and the Wine Council is the state entity tasked with sharing all the good news about this booming industry. This month they launched an all-new website packed with information about our state’s wineries & wine industry including Michigan wine events, the history of Michigan’s wine industry and some facts about Michigan wine. Some highlights:
- Michigan has 15,000 acres of vineyards making Michigan the fourth largest grape-growing state. Although most of the acreage is devoted to juice grapes such as Concord and Niagara for juice, about 2,650 acres are devoted to wine grapes, making Michigan the fifth state in wine grape production in the nation.
- Michigan’s vineyard area has doubled over the last 10 years.
- Our state’s wineries produce more than 1.3 million gallons of wine annually, making Michigan 13th in wine production, with the vast majority of production from Michigan-grown grapes.
- Three types of grapes are used for wine in Michigan: Vinifera (classic European), Hybrid (botanical crosses of vinifera and native North American grapes), and true native varieties (often used to juice production).
- Vinifera planted in Michigan include Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio/Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Auxerrois,
- Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Hybrids include Vidal, Chambourcin, Marechal Foch and Vignoles.
- Each year, Michigan’s wine, grapes and grape juice products and related industries produce nearly $790 million of total economic value to the State of Michigan and account for more than 5,000 jobs across the state.
Michigan in Pictures also has more about Michigan wine!
March 18, 2013
January 28, 2013
Most of Michigan is waking up to some rough weather that’s definitely not this idyllic – stay safe if you have to go anywhere!
Brent’s photo is currently the cover photo on the Michigan in Pictures Facebook. If you want to share pics you can of course use the Absolute Michigan pool, but I made a new Michigan Cover Photos Group for folks who wanted to share them on our Facebook cover.
More winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.
November 22, 2012
The story of Thanksgiving is one of our country’s oldest and best stories. At the heart of it is the sharing of the rich and diverse bounty of the land.
Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state, and here’s hoping that some of Michigan’s varied fruits, vegetables, meat and other local and tasty foods will make it to your table today and throughout the holiday season.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!
More Thanksgiving on Michigan in Pictures.
October 25, 2012
Pumpkins are a member of the cucurbita family, which includes squash, watermelons, and cucumbers. Their origins are believed to have come from Central America. Seeds from related plants have been found in Mexico that date back over 7000 years ago.
Pumpkins were an important food source for Native Americans. They regularly made pumpkin porridge, stew and pumpkin jerky and they made a broth that contained squash blossoms. They also dried pumpkin shells, and then weaved them into mats, which they used for trading. Early pilgrims quickly added pumpkins to their menus and also sent seeds back to Europe. The earliest version of pumpkin pie was made by baking a hollowed out pumpkin that was filled with milk, honey and spices.
Pumpkins are high in potassium, Vitamin A and fiber. They are also a good source of beta-carotene. Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, copper and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.
Read on for more including recipes and a comprehensive listing of Michigan pumpkin patches.
Lots more pumpkins on Michigan in Pictures.
October 18, 2012
I ran into Ken last weekend in Traverse City, and – like many visitors to the region – he spent some time touring Traverse City’s wine country. The vineyards look great at this time of year and (even better) the grapes in these vineyards and all over the state are defying the general agricultural awfulness. Long, dry summer made this vintage year for wine grapes from Crain’s Detroit Business begins:
Call it global warming or climate change, it doesn’t matter to winemaker Lee Lutes. He calls the past few years of long, warm, dry summers an “exceptional growing season” for his grapes.
Today the head winemaker at Black Star Farms is helping harvest the crop on the winery’s 150 acres on the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas.
And while the region’s crop of tart cherries was ruined by the weather’s mood swings in the spring — 80 degrees in March, then frost in May — wine grapes mature later and, for the most part, survived if not thrived. The variety of grapes grown in Michigan are really meant for warmer regions.
More Michigan farms on Michigan in Pictures.
September 10, 2012
Orange Pippin says that the Wolf River apple (first discovered along the river of the same name in Wisconsin) is:
A well-known American cooking apple, notable for its large size. Wolf River is mainly used for cooking, and it keeps its shape when cooked. It is fairly sweet and doesn’t need much sugar added.
Wolf River has a very high natural resistance to the disease apple scab, and good resistance to fireblight and mildew. It is also very cold hardy, making it a good choice for growing in the northern part of North America.
The Freep notes that the extreme damage to Michigan’s 2012 apple crop has created problems for those in the apple business:
Prices will vary, but consumers can expect fresh apple prices to be about 30% to 50% higher than last year, according to Bob Tritten, Michigan State University Extension Service fruit educator for southeast Michigan. Cider prices are up about 50%.
Last year’s Michigan apple crop was about 26 million bushels, said Dawn Drake, manager of the Michigan Processing Apple Growers Division, a branch of the Michigan Farm Bureau. But early warm weather forced the apple blossoms out early, and that was followed by several days of freezes, which killed most of the tender young blooms.
“This year they’ll be lucky to have 2 (million bushels),” Drake said.
Sergei didn’t think much of the taste when he tried it at the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire, but I read that the Wolf River doesn’t reach full flavor unless it gets hit by frost. Check it out bigger and see more in his Fall slideshow.