Michigan Blueberry Crop Suffers Winter Damage

Michigan Blueberry Crop Suffers Winter Damage

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Michigan produces 32% of blueberries in the U.S., and growers expect that early varieties will be ready for picking in early July, with the rest of the state a week or two behind, according to a Michigan State University Extension bulletin.

As the state readied for preharvest meetings, Michigan State University Extension small fruit educator Carlos García-Salazar, noted that growers have considerable damage to patches in the Southwest and West Central parts of the state. Damage was most noticeable in low spots and in fields inland from Lake Michigan, where cold air was concentrated on sub-zero degree days.

“Some blueberry varieties were more affected than others, and it is possible to observe fields with substantial winter injury less than a mile away from fields with no or minimal damage. Managing those fields is a challenge that requires special considerations,” writes García-Salazar.

One blueberry farm in Southern Michigan is closed for the year because of the winter injury the patch suffered.

“The cold winter temperatures injured the blueberry bushes and we lost the crop. We thank you for your understanding and support. See you next summer 2015” says a post on Dexter Blueberry Farm’s Facebook page.

Leo Zabinsky, former owner of Dexter Blueberry Farm told MLive.com the farm has closed two to three times in a 20-year span due to winter injury.

“I sold the farm back in 1998, but I started it back in the ’70s. If it gets colder than 20 below zero, you’re going to have damage. And you also have to consider things like wind, that does damage, too, and we had a lot of that this winter,” he said in the article.