USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey said that the late-season cold break in the Midwest, Great Lakes and Northeast was the worst he’s seen since 1966.
“The last several days have been very difficult for all of Michigan’s fruit growers—including fruit trees and berry crops—as well as some of our early vegetable plants such as celery that was recently planted and asparagus growers in Southwest Michigan,” said Audrey Sebolt, horticulture specialist with Michigan Farm Bureau.
Not only did this break record-low temperatures, but it smashed them. In some places, she said growers saw the mercury drop as low as 19 degrees.
“Others, especially those closest to Lake Michigan, experienced temperatures around 27 degrees for a few hours,” said Sebolt. “Those growers that experienced those very cold temperatures, they may have lost all of their crop. It’s very likely. Those who were able to put in some control measures and maybe didn’t get quite as cold, hopefully they’ll fare much better.”
Southwestern Michigan experienced two freeze events in April, the first on the 16th and the other on the 22.
“Several of our crops such as apples, peaches, and cherries were starting to open up their flowers,” said Sebolt.
The Northwestern part of Michigan wasn’t really affected because they were further behind when their flowers open.
“We suspect that they did experience some damage over the weekend for celery growers—the jury’s still out,” said Sebolt.
The asparagus crop didn’t experience a complete loss, but Sebolt said it will take a few days to recover.
“They’ve got to get those spears that did freeze out of the picture, and then they’ll be able to resume harvest as soon as the spears start to grow back,” she said.