Northern Michigan Cherry Farmers Plan For A More Fruitful 2017 A - Northern Michigan's News Leader

Northern Michigan Cherry Farmers Plan For A More Fruitful 2017 After A Hard Growing Season

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At The Northwest Michigan Orchard and Vineyard Show, farmers and crop experts from across Northern Michigan gather to talk about last year’s crop and how they can do better this year.

Michigan Grower, Paul Hubbell says, 2016 was a tough year for Northern Michigan cherry growers in particular; “It was devastating to some areas, we had to drop about 350,000 pounds on the ground this year because they were so damaged from hail.”

Farmers have higher hopes for their fields in 2017, but with weather and insects, Northwest Horticultural Researcher Nikki Rothwell says, the game of farming is always a gamble, “You know I always admire growers because it's a risky business and so we try to help those growers medicate those risks as best we can.”

Educators at the Northwest Michigan Orchard and Vineyard show help growers like Hubbell by warning them about potential risks like the Spotted Wing Drosophila, which attacks cherries.

Hubbell tells us, “It's been really nerve racking for us as growers, it attacks the cherry then leaves an egg in it then turns into a worm there's 0 tolerance for that because it's a food product.”

After informing they farmers, the growers then give them solutions such as new chemicals and technologies that will help.

“Some of these new chemistries coming out we're hoping that we can cut back on how many trips we make through the orchard,” says Hubbell.

As the state with the country's largest cherry harvest, Rothwell says these tips and tools help set farmers ahead for an even more fruitful Michigan growing season; “I think it's really unique to Michigan you know we grow 75% of the whole countries tart cherries and when you can show all these growers and all these festivals coming together I think that's really a great story to tell.”

Both experts and farmers are excited for new possibilities and new ways to feature the crop they work so hard to produce.