Fruit farmers prep for freeze warning
NILES, Mich.-- With growing season underway, it's time for strawberries and blueberries to blossom. But temperatures are expected to dip near freezing overnight, making the fruit very susceptible to frost.
Having a diversified amount of fruit helps the orchard just in case some don't make it.
That's why Lehman's Orchard plants all kinds of fruit. It's safer to have a lot to pick from.
"The blossoms that are just opening-those are the most susceptible to a freeze," said Steve Lecklider, farm manager, Lehman's Orchard.
His strawberries and blueberries are at highest risk for damage.
"We've set up sprinklers on the strawberries and because the blueberries bloom in phases, we'll still get a fairly decent crop," said Lecklider.
The sprinkler water comes out of the ground at 48 degrees- much warmer than the air. The water acts a cocoon for the fruit in mid-bloom.
"You start the sprinklers before the freeze event and what it does is encapsulates the blossom with water and that insulates the blossom," said Lecklider.
But he says it's easier to prepare for the freeze since spring came late this year. He adds, if given the choice, he'd always pick a late bloom.
"With a later bloom everything doesn't happen all at once, so you have time to kind of react to the freezes," said Lecklider.