The Robinson Township farmer liked what he saw.
Despite temperatures dangling in danger zones several times this winter, the buds were green, not black, as they would have been had they been damaged by the deep freeze.
“They look good,” said Reenders, owner of Crossroads Blueberry Farm. “I don’t think there’s much adverse effect along the Lakeshore. There could be some low-lying areas where we’ve had some damage. But, overall, I don’t think this cold winter has significantly hurt the blueberry crop for 2014 in this area.”
Seemingly endless snowfall may have actually helped the fruit’s cause.
“If you don’t have snow cover the ground, it will freeze and the bushes will dry out in the winter,” Reenders explained. “We had 14 below at the farm one morning — that’s getting pretty close. Another 5 or 10 degrees and we would have seen damage."
The bushes are susceptible because they set their buds in the fall.
“Sometimes we’ve cut branches and we bring them in the house to warm up and see if they green up,” Reenders said. “Snow makes it hard to do things, but I would prefer we have snow cover — even this much.”
Reenders and his crew normally trim the 280-acres of blueberry bushes during the winter, but the snow has drastically cut back that schedule. Judging by the thick, white landscape, it may be a while before they can move about in the fields.
Although there’s no sign of damage, Reenders said the season isn’t over. There’s an entire spring to get through while avoiding frost damage.
“I’m predicting that the crop is a little bit down from last year (when the state produced 100 million pounds),” he said. “Last year was a pretty big year, and usually we don’t get those consecutively.”
While Reenders dreams of eating plump blueberries, the cattle at Luke Meerman’s Grassfield Cheese farm in Coopersville are eating, and eating, and eating.
“They eat more food when it’s cold,” Meerman said. “That’s how they stay warm – by eating food and making their own heat."
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.