Dryness, Heat Hurt & Help Different Northern Michigan Crops

Farmers who grow fruits and vegetables around Northern Michigan are looking up to the skies for some much needed rain, as most of Northern Michigan experiences abnormally dry conditions.

“We’ve had 2.5 inches of rain so far, far less rain than we expect this time of year,” said Michigan State extension horticultural educator Nikki Rothwell.

But not everybody is complaining.

“The hot weather loving crops are trucking right along, for sure,” said James Hart of Gallagher Farms. “Our potatoes are looking really good.”

Hart also says his cucumbers, tomatoes and squash is surviving the heat and dryness.

His lettuce? Not so much.

“Lettuce and snow peas, those don’t germinate very well in hot temperatures, they germinate at little cooler [temperatures],” said Hart. “When it’s really hot it’s hard to get them going…Availability of different veggies has been a little limited to right about now.”

For our precious cherries, the heat and dryness is a double edged sword. The lack of rain decreases the likelihood of disease. If it’s too wet, it’s much easier for cherry trees to become infected.

“Diseases really love warm and wet conditions and we haven’t had that, [but] growers are seeing good quality,” said Rothwell.

On the other hand, when it’s too dry, sweet cherries tend to be a little smaller in size.

“For the quality of a cherry right now we really don’t want a rain due to the cracking, and it could lead to fungus growth and bacteria in the orchards,” said cherry grower Greg Shooks.

The sweet cherries are shaking out okay, though. They might be small, but they’re mighty.

“The cherries have been small, but really tasty,” said Hart.