Some fruit farmers struggling after dramatic temperature swings

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Fruit farmers struggle after dramatic temperature swings. // WSBT 22 photo

From mid 50s to the teens, the temperature change swung wildly over the week.

The dramatic swings have have had impacts all across the region and fruit farmers are struggled with the dramatic temperature swings right now.

Two wineries in Michigan said the extremes have turned this year into a regrowth year.

The Vineyards of Southwest Michigan are producing wines from Pino Grigio to Merlot.

There is a lot that goes into making the perfect wine, including temperature regulation.

“We had of minus 17, know that a lot of the Vinifera or like the Riesling Chardonnays very sensitive things. Like Merlot will be affected for this harvest we will probably have almost no crop,” said Matthew Moersch CEO of Tabor Hill.

The cold hearty grapes that are grown in the winter produce wines like Chardonnay. Damage to these varieties of grapes start at negative 8 degrees.

“The damage we’re going to be looking for are on the buds. And whether or not those buds survived that extreme cold temperature,” Scott Soethe, Public Relations and Marketing for Lemon Creek Winery, said.

The wineries tend to prune their vines in the winter because the vines go dormant and allow the farmers to trim off any excess to make room for fruit. This year will be difficult because of the major temperature swings.

“We don’t want the vines to warm up again and come out of dormancy while we’re pruning. Because then if it does come back to being extremely cold, they’ll bleed out and it can potentially kill the vines,” said Soethe.

Tabor Hill and Lemon Creek wineries both said they tried to protect their crops as much as they could before the cold weather hit.

“We were able to take a snow plow and basically add snow on top of the base of the vines so anywhere there was snow that was basically free insulation,” said Moersch.

“When preparing for a situation like these, you’re going to leave certain canes. Let’s say you want two canes, you’re going to leave four canes. So let’s say the ones that you chose to lay on the wire they don’t survive. The additional canes will hopefully take their place if necessary,” said Soethe.

Both wineries cannot officially say all of their crops are ruined.

“It shouldn’t affect summer. I mean, it’s just part of the kind of farming. You don’t have good years every year, especially in southwest Michigan where were always on the verge of trying new things and being very experimental. Sometimes you take the chance,” said Moersch.

The wine will still be there for everyone to enjoy.

“Don’t fear that we won’t have wines for you this summer. People still come out. The grapes will still be alive and look lush. It’s just the crop load probably won’t be," said Moersch.

Tabor Hill said their prices could go up because of the lack of certain wines, but they said they will always have plenty of selection to choose from.