Michigan peach season is here but where are the peaches?
The record-breaking warm spell we had in March caused the orchards to bloom early. Two heavy frosts in early April froze the blossoms, and have destroyed 80 percent to 95 percent of the Michigan fruit crops this year, according to the MSU Extension.
Once the blossoms freeze, the trees will not bloom again during the season, and therefore, will produce no fruit. Some large orchards have fans and heaters, and were able to save some of their crops, but the smaller orchards have lost everything. Apples and peaches are among Michigan's largest agricultural crops, and the financial loss will impact the state about $209.8 million dollars. (MSUE)
Steve Karpo, often called "The Pie Guy" by customers, is a third generation grower. His grandparents came to Michiigan from Ukrainia and started farming in the Tipton area. The orchard was added to the farm in 1974, and Karpo Farms became a vendor at the Northville Farmers Market around 1985. Using fruit from their own trees, Steve's parents still bake the delicious fruit pies available at the Market that give Steve his nickname.
It's going to be a tough year financially," admits Steve. "I walked through the trees and there's just nothing there," he says. "But the trees still need to be cared for all year so they'll produce next year. Karpo Farms sells 55 bushels of peaches a week just at our Market, 60 or more bushels of apples, dozens of fruit pies, cookies, jams & jellies, and cider. He sells fruit at several other farmers markets, and does some other sales as well. "Now there's just nothing there--except bills and mortgage payments," he says sadly.
There will be some fruit out there, but not too much Michigan grown. The Traverse City Cherry Festival shipped in cherries from Washington state. Peaches are coming to Michigan from the Carolinas and Georgia. The outlook for the Michigan apple crop is very dim. "Don't look for any U-Picks this year!" jokes Steve.
The Northville Farmers Market has some cherries and peaches available. The prices are higher and the quantities less than 2011. Our growers are permitted to buy in 20% of what they sell, but it still must be grown in Michigan.
On the bright side, why not enjoy the Michigan blueberries, blackberries and raspberries right now, and support our local farmers when the melon crop is ripe in early August. Sweet corn is here!
We'll all hope the weather cooperates and next years fruit crop truly is "just peachy!".
See you at the Market!
Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Seven Mile Rd. & Center St.
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