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.

Old Mission Orchard in Bloom

Old Mission Orchard

Old Mission Orchard, photo by Heather Higham

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.

You can read on for more about the evolution of the Cherry Festival and if you want to attend, the dates are July 4-11, 2015 and you can get all the details at cherryfestival.org.

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.

Rosy 2014 Michigan Apple Forecast!

Bounty

Bounty, photo by Bob Gudas

The Freep reports that Michigan is forecasting a crop of almost 29 million bushels of apples in 2014:

This year’s estimate is just under the record 30 million bushels that were picked last year. The yield in 2013 was so robust that some of the state’s growers and packers, most of whom are on the west side of the state, filled their storerooms and even rented additional space to handle all the extra big crop.

In addition to setting a record, Smith said last year’s bumper crop put Michigan in the No. 2 spot for apple production, pushing New York down to No. 3.

Washington is by far the No. 1 apple-producing state in the country, growing more than twice as many apples as Michigan and New York combined.

Additional fun apple fact from this well-done Freep article: If you want Michigan apples, McDonald’s has them. The fast food giant is a major customer for the Michigan apple industry, purchasing 25.5 million pounds in 2013.

View Bob’s photo from last October of an orchard near Rothbury in west Michigan bigger and see more pics in his slideshow.

More apples 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!

Bees & Blossoms

Bees and Blossoms by 45th parallel exposure

Blossoms & Bees, photo by Lee Lynn Awe

View Lee Lynn’s photo background bigtacular and see more in her slideshow.

More spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Apples on the Ridge push through Mothers Day frost

empire apple tree blossoming 4/4 2013

empire apple tree blossoming, photo by Alissa Holland

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).

Click through for more about the growers and markets and also see Fruit Ridge on Wikipedia.

Alissa took this photo of a blossoming Empire apple tree in her backyard on May 7th. See it bigger on black and view many more in her how my garden grows slideshow.

More apples and more farms on on Michigan in Pictures.