2018-05-10 / Front Page

Blooms delayed; none this week

Sweets should be out
By Jen Murphy
of the Enterprise staff

Lingering cooler temps in an already late spring could mean more delays for cherry blossoms, which for sweets should already be out.

But cherries are just one of Leelanau’s spring delights that remains on hold. Asparagus has yet to pop with the Empire Asparagus Festival fast approaching on May 18-20.

The timing may not work out this year.

Harry Norconk has been a major provider of the tasty green stalks. He’s not sure if Norconk Farm will be able to deliver.

“It’s slow,” Norconk said. “We’ve got a field that’s just barely popping out, and with three days of cold it won’t do much… if we don’t get the height we need, then we won’t have it. But we are hoping for some heat Monday and Tuesday.”

All of spring’s bounty is behind schedule, with few reports from successful mushroom or leeks hunters. But the crop that brings the most tourist to the county is cherries.

According to the most recent FruitNet Report from the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center (NWMHRC), the average full bloom for sweet cherries would have started four days ago on May 6. The average full bloom for tarts should be tomorrow.

Not this year.

The latest crop report from the Hort Center states that green tissue is evident in cherry trees, which is a sign of new spring growth, and that growers are trying to find a “good window” for sweet cherry pruning.

Jeff Send, owner of Send Receiving Station, said blooms are definitely behind. “They’re roughly two to three weeks behind what it’s been for the past five to six years,” he said. “It doesn’t look like there’s any damage. We could be seeing some bloom for the sweets next week, but as long as the wind stays out of the north, we won’t see much.”

Will it be the latest full blooms ever? Maybe.

Based on NWMHRC records, the latest blooms were in 1997. Sweets reached full bloom on May 26 that year, and tarts followed just two days later on May 28.

Fortunately for hikers, wildflowers are navigating the ups and downs of the mercury.

Emily Douglas, Leelanau Conservancy land steward, said beauties such as trilliums haven’t been affected. “They’re all blooming at the same time now,” she said. “Their bloom period is going to be shorter. Where you would see them staggered, now it’s more of an explosion.”

Trillium and squirrel corn flowers are already opening, said Douglas. “And it shouldn’t affect seeding next year as long as pollinators are out.”

The Conservancy also hosts a number of hikes. The Earth Week hike at Clay Cliffs Natural Area was cancelled because of the late April snowfall. Others, however, will go on as planned. “If we have a hike scheduled, it’s still lovely to be out and talk about what is happening, even if things aren’t in bloom yet,” Douglas said.

And when will the elusive morels arrive? Soon, according to Leelanau County district forester Kama Ross.

“I’m thinking this weekend we should start seeing them in Leelanau County,” she said. “Thirty to 50 miles south makes a whole lot of difference. I was over in Northern Wisconsin at the Apostle Islands over the weekend and lots of ice on Lake Superior - at least we lost that.”

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