June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

Snow adds to farmers’ crop worries

BROWNHELM TWP. — Every time he goes out to check his trees, Roger Miller sees more signs of frost damage interrupting a profitable fruit-growing season.

Buds that burst into bloom after record-breaking heat in March are dying by the thousands, and it isn’t pretty.
“You look inside the bloom, and it’s black,” Miller said. “Once they freeze, it’s gone for good for the season.”
If frost warnings weren’t enough, snow fell this week.

According to meteorologist Martin Thompson of the National Weather Service, 0.1 inch was recorded Wednesday and 0.3 inch fell on Tuesday.

Temperatures overnight Wednesday were expected to drop below freezing again, according to Thompson.

To make matters worse, it was expected to be clear, and “any moisture will turn to frost,” Thompson said.

Miller, who operates Miller Orchards with his brother Dave, said he estimates 50 percent of the apple crop is gone.

Miller said fruit farmers may have to turn to crop insurance to make up their losses this year.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Spiegelberg of Spiegelberg Orchards in Lorain said he is staying calm and hoping for the best after 50 years of operating the orchard founded by his father in 1920.

If just 4 percent of the blossoms turn into apples, that will still be enough to bring in a crop, he said.
“You’ll get a better size,” Spiegelberg said.

He said 16 hives of bees were delivered to his orchard this week by his “beeman,” who said things are even worse in Traverse City, Mich.

“They took a heck of a beating,” Spiegelberg said of Traverse City, which is known for its spring cherry blossom festival.

So far in April, the lowest temperature was 27 degrees, recorded Saturday at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Thompson said.

Average temperatures in March were 51.4, or 13 degrees above normal, according to Thompson, who said the average high temperature was 61.3 degrees, or 14.7 degrees above normal.

For the month of March, Hopkins airport recorded 10 consecutive days where the temperature went over
70 and four consecutive days when it went over 80.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.