Cloudy, Cool Spring Delays Fruit Harvest

The bad spring weather has been devastating to much of the field crops in Michigan but as we near harvest time for many fruits, we are seeing the delay.

Strawberries are usually picked in mid-June but very few farms have started yet. Blueberries are usually picked soon as well, but they have probably another month.

“We should’ve been starting to get some heat and we just weren’t,” says Mark Young of Young Farms, “We just weren’t.”

For corn and soy beans, it was mostly a wash. But for fruits like strawberries, the cruddy spring weather has delayed harvest, leaving berry fans in a lurch in Central Michigan.

“Early June they should be in full bloom,” says Darlene Howard of Howard Farms, “Three weeks ahead of harvest and they weren’t in bloom until, well some of them just finished.”

For farmers, it seems like a year of records, and not the good kind, everything is late.

“We started one year on June 29th that I can remember,” says Howard, “We might pick a few on the 29th but we won’t be in to them for another week or so.”

Multiple people drive up to Howard Farms daily and ask how soon until the berries are in. That means people are planning their summers around the fruit and they are looking forward to the strawberries so it’s been frustrating not being able to have them ready for them.

“Exactly, very frustrating,” says Howard, “The only reason we’re still here is because of these people that drive up.”

This delay would usually push strawberries into blueberry harvest but those too are being delayed by at least two weeks.

“Every year, it used to be every year, we could count on the Fourth of July when we’d start picking and I mean we’re not even close,” says Young.

Fruit harvest is a tight window, in order to get it when it is ripe and they will last. It may be delayed but at least these growers can see the fruits of their labor coming along.

“Two weeks behind is still okay,” says Young, “Obviously not where we want to be but I think we’re going to get through it okay.”