By Bob Allen
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.
A freak warm spell pushed fruit trees to develop buds at least a month early. Then the sudden cold snap caught tart cherries in a delicate phase just before the blossoms open.
Cherries in Antrim and Benzie Counties were further along and not as hard hit. The loss there is more in the 30 to 40 percent range.