Lehman's Orchard says late season freeze could help fruit

NILES, Mich. -- While late season freezes can often cause major disruptions for crops, Lehman's Orchard thinks this could actually be a good thing for their fruit.

As temperatures drop below freezing tonight, you might not have too much of an impact at home. Before you go to bed tonight, remember to empty all of the water from your garden hose, bring potted plants indoors, and cover in-ground plants. For those in the agricultural field, freezes can have bigger implications.

Steve Lecklider is the manager of Lehman's Orchard, and he says the freeze tonight could help them.

"We have some crops that have already blossomed, and I'm thinking the freeze will probably effect them in that it may thin some of the fruit, which might be a good thing," Lecklider says.

Fruit thinning means that some of the excess fruit gets taken off of the plants, so that there isn't an overabundance and competition for resources. This can be done manually, or naturally, when a freeze kills off some of the fruit.

The fruit that is most impacted by tonight's freeze will likely be the ones already flowering, like cherries, peaches, plums, and pears. Fruit that won't be as impacted are ones that haven't blossomed, like apples, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries.

Lehman's Orchard considered using water sprinklers Friday night to keep their crops from freezing, but they decided against this protection because of today's gusty winds.

While some in the industry might be nervous about the cold start to spring and the freeze tonight, Steve seems optimistic about the fruit this season.

"We're looking forward to strawberries in June sometimes, and it looks like good crops all the way around. Fingers crossed for tonight. We're thankful for all of our customers coming in and asking about the fruit," Lecklider said.

Be sure to take care of your crops and your potted plants tonight as temperatures drop to the upper 20s.

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