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Farmers concerned about early buds

EAU CLAIRE, Mich. - Southwest Michigan’s fruit farmers are on the edge of their seats. Some crops are growing ahead of schedule and if it doesn’t stay warm they could lose on yield.

At Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire Tuesday, growth on the buds of sweet cherry and apricot trees are beginning to sprout.

82-year-old Herb Teichman looks through a magnifying glass at the green buds growing on an apricot bush. “You know we get one pay day each year in this business and if a freeze came it would wipe you out,” he said.

Teichman has seen it before, what Mother Nature gives she can easily take away. “Any with green tissue there most likely would be killed (in a frost),” he said.

“The development is about 2 weeks ahead of normal,” said Bill Teichman, Herb’s son. March is unpredictable it can be warm and all of a sudden freeze wiping out entire orchards. “You’re more vulnerable,” he said. “Vulnerable to the crop loss, that’s what’s scary.”

In 2009, it was a very similar spring to this year. There was early growth on the plants but a late freeze wiped out Tree-Mendus’ apricot crop.  

“If it continues on this mild streak we’ll be fine,” said Bill. “But any abrupt changes and that’s what costs you fruit.”

At this point all the farm can do is hope the temperature stays above freezing. “When it gets to a certain low temperature… you’ve lost your crop,” said Herb.

Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm is expecting apricots to bloom by the end of the week. On a usual spring the bloom happens closer to mid-April.

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