Beautiful Blossoms

Cherry Orchard Aisles & Blossoms

Cherry Orchard Aisles & Blossoms, photo by Jess Clifton

mLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa writes that the upcoming weather is looking normal, which is also fantastic for an extended time period of blooming here in Michigan:

Tulip Time runs from Saturday, May 7, to May 14 in downtown Holland. The Traverse City area cherry blossoms are also about to erupt with color.

Cool nights and near normal temperature days are just what we want for a long display of color from these two spring performers.

Gwen Auwerda, Executive Director of Tulip Time in Holland, MI says tulip blossoms can last up to 21 days if high heat is avoided. Auwerda says most of the tulips in Holland, MI are at peak right now, with some of the late bloomers expected to peak next week.

The cooler weather has slowed down the cherry blossoms in northwest Lower Michigan. Nikki Rothwell, MSU Extension educator, says now the cherries are right on track to blossom at the typical time.

Rothwell says sweet cherries are only days away from blooming, with peak bloom in northwest Lower Michigan possibly on Mother’s Day. Tart cherries, which make up most of northwest Lower Michigan’s cherry crop, should start blooming May 11 or May 12, and peak around May 14.

Jess took this back in May of 2014 near Traverse City. View it background bigilicious, enjoy her Mother Nature in Michigan slideshow, and check out more of her work at jesscliftonphotography.com.

More spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

Horn Road Orchard

Horn Road Orchard

Horn Road Orchard, photo by Mark Smith

Up here in the Traverse City area we don’t have cherry blossoms yet, but I’ve been seeing reports that cherries and other fruit crops are in bloom in southwest Michigan. Expect the TC area to bloom in a week or two and please share what you’re seeing in the comments!

View Mark’s photo background bigilicious and see more in his East of Leland slideshow.

More spring wallpaper and more orchards on Michigan in Pictures.

Cherry Time in Michigan

Ready to Pick

Ready to Pick, photo by Bruce

While much of the state is still waiting on cherries to ripen, the National Cherry Festival is heading into the final weekend for their 88th annual event. Their history page says (in part):

French colonists from Normandy brought pits that they planted along the Saint Lawrence River and on down into the Great Lakes area. Cherry trees were part of the gardens of French settlers as they established such cities as Detroit, Vincennes, and other midwestern settlements.

Modern day cherry production began in the mid-1800s. Peter Dougherty was a Presbyterian missionary living in northern Michigan. In 1852, he planted cherry trees on Old Mission Peninsula (near Traverse City, Michigan). Much to the surprise of the other farmers and Indians who lived in the area, Dougherty’s cherry trees flourished and soon other residents of the area planted trees. The area proved to be ideal for growing cherries because Lake Michigan tempers Arctic winds in winter and cools the orchards in summer.

The first commercial tart cherry orchards in Michigan were planted in 1893 on Ridgewood Farm near the site of Dougherty’s original plantings. By the early 1900s, the tart cherry industry was firmly established in the state with orchards not only in the Traverse City area, but all along Lake Michigan from Benton Harbor to Elk Rapids. Soon production surpassed other major crops. The first cherry processing facility, Traverse City Canning Company, was built just south of Traverse City, and the ruby-red fruit was soon shipped to Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee.

…The most famous sweet cherry variety is the Bing cherry; this cherry variety got its name from one of Lewelling’s Chinese workmen. Another sweet cherry variety is the Lambert, which also got its start on Lewelling Farms. The Rainier cherry, a light sweet variety, originated from the cross breeding of the Bing and Van varieties by Dr. Harold W. Fogle at the Washington State University Research Station in Prosser, Washington. The Bing, Lambert and Rainier varieties together account for more than 95 percent of the Northwest sweet cherry production.

Today, the U. S. cherry industry produces more than 650 million pounds of tart and sweet cherries each year. Much of the cherry production is concentrated in Michigan and the Northwest. Michigan grows about 75 percent of the tart cherry crop. Oregon and Washington harvest about 60 percent of the sweet cherry crop. Other states with commercial cherry crops are Utah, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania and California.

Read on for more, and if you want to read about how some cherry farmers think that Federal cherry policy is leaving dollars in the orchards, head over to this Bridge Magazine article on how USDA cherry policy impacts Michigan cherry farmers.

Bruce photographed these beauties last week at at Lemon Creek Winery near Baroda. View his pic background bigtacular and see more in his slideshow.

More cherries and more summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

Frozen Fruit? May freeze puts Michigan’s fruit crops in peril

Cherry Orchard ... spring snow

Cherry Orchard … spring snow, photo by Ken Scott

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.

View Ken’s photo on black and see more in his massive Leelanau slideshow.

 

Trouble for Tart Cherries

Beautiful Blossoms 5320-11
Beautiful Blossoms 5320-11, photo by StacyN – MichiganMoments

Cherry blossoms are out a full month early in Michigan, and our “Summer in March” appears to have claimed much of Northern Michigan’s 2012 tart cherry crop. Interlochen Public Radio reports:

A spring freeze last week across Northwest Michigan killed more than half of the buds on tart cherry trees. Industry officials estimate the loss for the region in the 50 to 70 percent range. Trees can produce a decent crop if a third of the buds survive. But several factors, including another freeze this spring, could still damage more of the crop before harvest.

Leelanau County saw the heaviest loss, estimated at as high as 90 percent of sour cherries killed in many orchards. But other fruit trees, like apple and sweet cherries, are in decent shape.

Antrim & Benzie county crops appear to be in better shape, but with a hard frost out there this morning, it’s probably not over yet.

Stacy took this shot last May just south of Traverse City. Check this out bigger and in her Spring slideshow.

Cherry Blossom Time in Michigan

Cherry Blossom Time, Benzie County Michigan by John Clement Howe

Cherry Blossom Time, Benzie County Michigan, photo by John Clement Howe.

The photo is part of John’s amazing Benzie County! photo set (slideshow) and it’s no coincidence that the next photo is a tasty looking morel mushroom – both cherry blossoms and morels are found at the same time of year!

Every May, the cherry trees of Michigan burst forth in white clouds of splendor, and dwelling as I do in the heart of Michigan’s cherry country, I am lucky enough to have a front row seat. I was struck by how little presence Michigan has in the cherry blossom information that can be found online. We’re just an afterthought on Wikipedia’s Sakura (cherry blossom) entry and event a search for Michigan cherry blossoms yields mostly Japanese restaurants.

I suppose that the fruit has become the bigger deal, but it wasn’t always that way. In their History of the National Cherry Festival, the Agile Writer notes that the Festival began in 1910 with a prayer ceremony for a good cherry crop. It was formalized in 1925, when the cherry growers partnered with Traverse City merchants to create the “Blessing of the Blossoms Festival” to promote the region and the cherry business.