Northern Michigan Farmers Say Warm Weather Could Pose Threat to Crops

While many enjoy watching the snow melt, not everyone is ready for an early spring.

Especially cherry growers and vineyards.

They need the colder temperatures and snow to insulate their crop until spring is sprung.

Several growers in Grand Traverse County are now keeping a close eye on their trees and vines.

“We take what we get. We never know.”

The motto of a farmer – having to adjust to whatever nature throws their way.

“It would be better if it were cooler,” says Josh Wunsch, owner of Wunsch Farms. “The hopeful thing is even if we get into the 40’s in the day we get some evening temperatures that are below freezing that’ll help. That means it will warm up more slowly and that will kind of hold things back.”

After several years of low harvests, farmers were hoping this year would offer them a turnaround.

“Part of the definition of a farmers job description is to worry,” says Mark Johnson, Chateau Chantal. “So we know that we’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re very thankful for what we do have and what the winter had given us so far.”

With the warmer temperatures looking to stick around, it’s time for a backup plan.

“We always want to have all of our wine from right here. That’s our goal, that’s why we are where we are,” Johnson says. “But we also run a business. If Mother Nature doesn’t work with us and provide us with what we need we have to augment that work, and then of course the objective is to come up with something that is as close in character to our own fruit if possible.”

“We can never grow enough sweet cherries. We can never grow enough honey crisps, but the objective really is to produce as abundant and as high quality crop as possible,” Wunsch says. “You are at the mercy of the weather. Farmers have always been at the mercy of the weather so you roll with that and tweak where you can.”