Harsh Winter Delays MI Cherry and Grape Crops

Northern Michigan cherry and grape farmers have been waiting to see what effect last winter’s brutal cold and above average snowfall had on their crops.

Adam Bartelmay shows us it will be a game of wait and see for at least one of them.

Marc Santucci was nervous, but that nervousness has given way to relief for the cherry and grape farmer as he surveys his cherry crop on the Old Mission Peninsula.

“The winter really didn’t hurt them that much. Only the youngest trees were damaged at all.”

Santucci was worried the harsh winter would have done a lot more harm. Instead, the only problem he’ll have is to wait more than a week longer than last year to shake cherries off the trees.

“They’re going to be later than they normally are. And they’re going to seem even later than that because they’ve been early for many of the past five years.”

Trees on Marc Santucci’s farm are just bursting with cherries, giving him hope for a bountiful harvest. He’s less optimistic about his grape crop, expecting a fairly significant loss.

“The early fear was losing 90% of the red crop and 60% of the white crop. It looks like it’s going to be much better than that,” Santucci said. 

However, experts say it’s too early to tell exactly how much of a loss there will be. Growers might only see a 25% loss to white grapes, which they grow more of.

“There’s certainly some loss, but they actually did the best of everything other than the hybrid varieties which are very cold hearty.”

That drop in the crop will translate into another loss .

“It’ll be a lower income for the growers themselves and potentially lower income for the wineries.”

It will be another two weeks before the loss in the grape crop can be truly measured. As for the late cherries, you won’t see local fruit at this year’s National Cherry Festival.