Blueberries on ice

Local blueberry farmers are hoping they aren't feeling blue once their blueberry crops reach harvest time. A late winter and early spring that featured a rollercoaster of temperature fluctuations has left farmers to wonder what their crops will yield.
Alex Doty
May 3, 2012


Ken Reenders, of Reenders Blueberry Farm in Grand Haven Township, said it is still too early to tell what kind of effect the cold weather had on his total crop yield.

“It is just a wait-and-see game right now,” he said.

Reenders said he currently believes there is about a 10 percent loss in crop because of the weather, but noted that it could reach as high as 30 percent.

“We don’t know if they are going to come out and blossom or fall off,” he said.

To help avoid damage due to cold nights, Reenders said he has irrigated some of the fields, but it is hard to tell the difference at this point.

Reenders said he would likely know more about the state of his crops by the middle of next week.

According to experts from the Ottawa County Michigan State Extension service, blueberry plants can tolerate temperatures in the 28-degree range. Once the plants have flowered, they are more susceptible to damage from the cold.

Other blueberry farmers in the area are beginning to wonder what effects the wacky weather will have on their harvest.

Howard Behm, owner of Behm Blueberry Farm in Grand Haven Township, said he likes how things are shaping up so far for his crop.

“The last month or so has been trying, with the weather, but everything is coming together very well,” he said.

To help get his bushes through the late winter and early spring temperature fluctuations, Behm said he put an organic mixture on them — made up of potassium and calcium. The mixture, he said, prevents the plants from freezing at night.

“We are very pleased with it,” he said of the mixture.

Behm was reluctant to put a finger on how much crop was lost due to weather, or how he estimates his crop will do this year, but he's hopeful that things turn out for the best. He said the next few weeks are crucial to determining the final impact of the crop and how well it does.

Behm said the weather this past winter and spring was unique compared to other growing seasons.

“This was one of the strangest years in the 60-year history,” Behm said. “This is definitely one of the top five.”


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