Where would we be without apples? Imagine Adam & Eve, Sir Issac Newton, Steve Jobs, Parmenters, and teachers...all without apples!
An apple for the teacher may be hard to come by this fall in Michigan. The warm weather we had early in the spring coaxed the apple blossoms into early bloom. Several hard frosts followed, freezing the blossoms. This has devastated the Michigan apple crop.
Some growers say this is the worst crop failure since the 1940s. Other figures estimate a 90% loss of product. Last year, growers produced about 25 million bushels of apples. In 2012, only about 3 million bushels are expected.
Michigan is the third largest grower of apples in the U.S., just behind Washington and New York.
The effects of a $900 million dollar loss of product trickle down into many areas of our state economy. Wholesale, farmers markets, grocery stores, U-Pick, and cider mills will see the immediate results. Loss of jobs for pickers, cider mill workers and shippers is also impacted. Many businesses will be buying apples from other states and you can expect to see price increases this fall.
Some areas of the state fared a little better than others, so the good news is that there are still some good Michigan apples at the Market. Our growers are allowed to buy up to 20% of their fruit from other Michigan growers this fall. Look for Gala, Gingergold and Paula Reds right now. Golden Delicious and Jonathans fared better than other varieties. Honeycrip apples, the popular new variety of apple, was hit very hard and may be in scarce supply from Michigan growers.
Our farmers have been hit hard. With no income available, farm mortgages still need to be paid, and fruit trees still need a full season of care until the 2013 crop ripens. In June, Gov. Snyder signed a bill financing short term loans for growers.
How can we help support our growers in spite of the apple crop failure? Buy Michigan grown apples when available. Focus on fall fun and other fall products. Local cider mills will have pumpkin patches, hay bale mazes, crafts and baked goods. Call ahead to your favorite U-Pick for availability. Our fruit growers at the Farmers Market will have locally made jams & jellies, fall raspberries, fall crafts, and baked goods available.
Chocolate chip cookies for the teacher this year instead of an apple?