Local farmers hopeful about this years crop

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- Farmers in Michiana are looking ahead to this year’s growing season. Many crops were wiped out last year by weather, but this year things are looking up. Growers are nervous – but hopeful.

At this time last year, temperatures were in the 80's and the fruit was five weeks ahead of schedule.

"We were just way far ahead of normal and then we had a normal April with about 15 frosty nights and then the dagger that killed us was April 27. It got down to about 23 degrees,” said Mike Hildebrand, owner of Hildebrand Farms in Berrien Springs.

Like most of the farmers in southwestern Michigan, Hildebrand took a significant hit in last year's spring warm up.

"We got about a third of a crop of peaches, about 13-percent of a crop of apples, and about 40 percent of our grapes,” said Hildebrand.

But this year, the cold has seemed endless, which is a good sign for farmers like Hildebrand.

"The plants have not woken up. I know everyone is complaining that it's so cold and winter is dragging on forever. Darn the groundhog or whatever, but this is good,” said Hildebrand.

The buds are still dormant, which means another normal April with some frosty nights won't hurt the crop.

But Hildebrand knows there’s no guarantee.

"With the weather, things change quickly. You know, we're always a 15 minute hail storm away from devastation again, so things might look great now, you never count your chickens before they've hatched,” said Hildebrand.

Hildebrand says the grapes should be budding in about 5 weeks.

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