Most years, Michigan is one of the nation's top apple producers, harvesting an average of twenty million bushels a year. Last year's bumper crop was upwards of twenty-six million. But the mild March brought apples and other fruit trees into premature bloom--only to be blasted by April frosts. The Michigan Apple Commission estimates orchardists will bring in just three million bushels this fall.
Locally, some growers were completely wiped out. The message on the answering machine for the Lutz Orchard near Saline states they have no apples but are selling honey by appointment. Amy Lesser of Lesser Farms in Dexter Township reports that they have "no fruit of any kind."
Alex Nemeth's farm south of Ypsilanti will have no apples for sale at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, though they're expecting "a good crop of grapes." Bruce Upston from Wasem Fruit Farm near Milan was similarly affected but will have baked goods, jams, pumpkins, and squash to sell at the Ann Arbor market. "We hope to have cider, but so far none of the growers we've contacted are committing to selling," he says. Upston thinks their family farm can withstand this year's crop loss--the worst since the 1940s--but "a second year like this would be devastating."