Winter Setting Michigan Fruit Farmers Up Nicely

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ST. JOHN'S (WILX)-- Those 70-degree days last March were a disaster for farmers.

The early thaw caused apple and cherry trees to bud, then another winter freeze killed them. The thaw/freeze wiped out crops that are a huge part of Michigan's economy.

This year farmers are learning from their mistakes and doing whatever they can to be prepared for a second bad year. But with a better winter and more snow a repeat may have been avoided.

"It could still happen this year. All it takes is one very cold night when all the blossoms are out and you're in the same situation," said Uncle Johns Cider Mill President, Michael Beck.

Farmers are feeling better about this season, expecting it to be average.

"The big difference is we were playing golf last year at this time and this year we're not. That's good because it's keeping our fruit tree's exactly where they need to be in a dormant situation," said Beck.

This time around farmers aren't taking any chances.

"We bought frost fans to push air on the coldest nights and we are looking to other insurance programs as well."

"Farmer's have been getting wind machines to move air around," said Ken Nye from the Michigan Farm Bureau . "Irrigation will help out a percentage. though it's tough to get that in some fruit trees. There Are some things by planting in the best sites."

Although, little has been changed in government aid if the fruit farms were to suffer another bad year.

"There are improvements underway with crop insurance programs. In most cases for fruit growers there aren't many more programs to help them out," said Nye.

This year may be looking better than last, but local farms are not out of the clear yet. Farmers are still hoping for a few more weeks of snow or rain to get extra moisture deep in the soil to start this years season off right.

"I'd like winter to be around for a few more weeks, that would be just fine by us," said Beck.

This year's crops are about two to three weeks behind where they were in march of 2012, and that's a good thing. The fruit season is predicted to begin in late April or early May.

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