2018-04-26 / Views

Will snow fertilizer be enough for farmers?

Poor man’s fertilizer.

That was the phrase used by long-time county orchardist Dave Alpers to describe a mid-spring dumping of 20 inches of heavy snow across the Leelanau Peninsula.

Mr. Alpers, who was tending to unrelated business in the Enterprise office, had little to offer for a prediction of when to expect apple trees to blossom. They could bust out on time in mid-May after a warming trend, or the process could drag out into Memorial Day weekend if temps stay in the 40s and 50s.

That’s the National Weather Service forecast for the next week or so, which gets us into May.

Cherry farmers we’ve talked to consider the late spring a mixed blessing. Delaying the bloom into mid-to-late May reduces the chance of a frost nipping buds. While poor pollination is a constant spring threat, untimely frosts carry potential to wipe out a crop.

Then again with so many tart cherries still in storage, a bumper harvest would send prices into a free fall.

That doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room in the ultimate goal of orchardists to bring in a profitable crop.

Still, we find solace in the phrase, “poor man’s fertilizer.” With corn prices also low, farmers could use a financial break right about now.

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