Farmers may have lost crops to frost damage
Usually it take about 24 hours for frost damage to present itself on the pink and blossoms of fruit trees. This morning though, brown blossom's could be seen for miles in Berrien County. How did farms fare after overnight temperatures? We asked the experts...
Every morning, like clock work, they come. Radom Farm Supply stocks everything a farmer could need, but local farmers come for the coffee and conversation.
Usually they discuss, "the weather, sports, world problems" says Kurt Weber who farms fruit near Coloma. This morning, over pastries and the paper, farmers are talking weather.
"I think everyone realized we probably had a lot of damage last night. It was cold, for a long duration, no clouds and no wind and that is when the temps really drop," says Weber.
The local farmers have a lot to discuss after last nights cold temperatures. In some areas, the thermometer hit 23 degrees.
"I think it was pretty bad," says Ed Czuea another farmer, "I drove through the orchard here at 6 this morning and in one of my lower spots it was 24 degrees. There was heavy frost. As soon as you drive up the hills there is less frost. But the low spots got picked pretty good."
While farmers expect damage, exactly how much is yet to be seen.
"To early to tell, don't want to speculate," says Weber.
Randy Willmeng farms nearby. He took us through his peach field to survey the damage.
"Yesterday these were all white," says Willmeng as he holds a brown peach blossom, "in the morning they are already brown."
Willmeng used a giant fan to pull the warm air from above into his low lying peach field. It is supposed to help keep up to 10 acres from freezing, but if the glistening frost and brown blossoms are any indication, last night, it didn't work.
"I think it was a severe freeze last night," says Willmend, "and just looking at the blossoms, any low land is going to be in bad shape."
Willmeng's peach field isn't the only one in trouble. His loss is also being felt by every one of his farming friends. Which they will be talking about for years to come.
"If you don't have a crop you make no money. That is bottom line. We are going to have to wait a whole year. It is a hard business to get into when you lose what you sell," says Willmeng.
It is too soon to tell how much loss each farmer will endure. What we do know if they are not out of the woods yet. These cold overnight temperatures are expected for at least another month.
Tom Kercher from Kercher Orchards in Elkhart County tells us he believes they lost their entire apple crop in the morning's freeze. But he will have a better idea Friday.