Here’s a photo of mine from yesterday afternoon of cherry blossoms on the Leelanau Peninsula. You can follow my @mileelanau Instagram for more shots from northwest lower Michigan!
Cherry blossoms, along with apple & other fruit tree blooms are out across Michigan. If you’re near a fruit growing region, take a drive and see what’s to be seen!
PS: Here’s a little Facebook Live video I did this week with Nikki Rothwell, head of MSU’s Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station about cherries, blossoms, and the work of the Station. I can’t seem to size the video here so you might want to click to view it on the Leelanau.com Facebook.
The cherry blossoms are out on northwest Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula. A little over 100 years ago, this annual occurrence gave birth to Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival. The Cherry Festival’s history page shares that sometime around 1910, cherry growers in the Grand Traverse area began to hold informal “blessing of the blossoms” ceremonies each year at blossom time in May. The TC Record-Eagle picks up the story:
Something had to be done to attract tourists to the Grand Traverse area, local resident and community leader Jay P. Smith declared in 1925.
Henry Ford had introduced a new automobile that allowed people to travel long distances with ease, and Hannah, Lay & Co. spurred a growing business atmosphere here, but tourism still lagged. So Smith created the Blessing of the Blossoms festival.
For one day in May area residents and visitors traveled out to the Old Mission Peninsula to view fields of cherry blossoms from the vantage point of two towers, then flocked to a downtown parade that moved east on Front Street from Elmwood Avenue to Railroad Avenue.
“This was kind of a big deal,” said Gary Kaberle, a former National Cherry Festival president. “People really liked this.”
But Smith and his committee quickly realized that a May festival meant children weren’t out of school and tourists were less likely to have time off work, so they moved the festival to July to coincide with the cherry harvest.
Heather writes that she was looking into an orchard from the edges, surrounded by flowers and bees when she took this picture. View her photo bigger on Flickr, see more in her Old Mission Peninsula slideshow and definitely follow her at Snap Happy Gal Photography on Facebook.
PS: If you want to learn about the early days of the Old Mission Peninsula, check out Rev. Peter Dougherty House on Old Mission having one heck of a yard sale from May 2007 on Michigan in Pictures.
In addition to Michigan in Pictures, I run the website Leelanau.com. The most common question this time of year over there is “When will cherry blossoms be out?” Although this year has been slow going, I was out and about yesterday and caught some of the first blooms of the season. Click that link to see them on Leelanau.com and also a pile of morels!
Visit Traverse City’s cherry blossom section says that the blossoms on the trees last on average of four to five days, but because different parts of the region bloom at different times, it’s a safe bet you can see blossoms for one to two weeks on average if you make the rounds.
I know that Spring Fever is in full bloom when I start getting people coming in droves to read about cherry blossoms. While we don’t have an exact report, it looks like we’re running about a week behind, which would put blossoms in the 2nd to 3rd weekend of May depending on where you’re located.
In terms of the early outlook for the 2014 growing season, the West Michigan tree fruit regional report – April 22, 2014 from MSU Extension says:
Recent warmer than average temperatures have pushed a little green tissue out of apple flowering buds on the earliest varieties – Ida Red, McIntosh, Zestar and some early Gala sites. Growing degree day accumulations continue to run about 10 to 14 days behind normal averages. In 2013, green tip in McIntosh occurred on April 27 and we are not quite there yet for 2014, but it should occur by the end of the week if not sooner. So, 2014 is shaping up to be similar to and even a bit ahead of 2013 for growth stages. This is surprising given the record-breaking ice cover on the Great Lakes and the cooler than average weather pattern we’ve been in for the past six months.
Stone fruits are slowly developing. Sweet cherry flower buds are expanding, but no green tissue yet. Peach buds are plumping up nicely. Growers in the Grand Rapids, Mich., area are reporting mixed levels of bud loss from the extreme winter cold temperatures. Overall, it appears that the peach crop in this area was mostly spared and holds a normal crop potential at this time.
The Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station doesn’t have any information up yet, but you can follow the development an actual Leelanau County tart cherry tree via their webcam!
A run of warm weather has the cherry trees in Michigan ready to blossom. Due to their pent up demand to bloom, we should see blossoms all across the state this weekend. Up here in the “Cherry Capital of the World” near Traverse City, we saw leaves pushing out over the weekend and the first buds are getting ready to burst. The same is true in Southwest Michigan.
Even better news is that despite a little flirting with the 30s expected for the coming weekend, we aren’t likely to see full-on frost in 2013. This is a welcome change from 2012 when Michigan saw near total losses across a broad range of fruit crops due to our “summer in March.”