Hundreds Of Michigan Apple Trees Could Die After Polar Vortex Freeze

EAST LANSING (WWJ) – Last winter’s polar vortex is still being felt at apple orchards across the state

George Sundin — a professor of plant pathology at Michigan State University — says a number of apple trees were killed by the record-breaking sub-zero temperatures.

“We’ve observed it pretty much throughout the state,” Sundin told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Jayne Bower. “On the ridge area…north of Grand Rapids, is our largest apple-growing region in the state; we’ve seen some issues there…Up in northwest Michigan, up near Traverse City — pretty much we’ll see this throughout the state.”

Sundin says apple trees are normally quite resistant to cold winters.

“The main this is the temperatures were so unprecedented,” he said. “We haven’t experienced those for so long that we just haven’t seen this kind of a problem with winter killing apples in quite some time.”

Sundin said Michigan orchards could lose hundreds of apple trees which he says is only a small percentage of the total; so the apple yield probably won’t be affected.

However, he said,  growers are being told to cut down dead trees  to prevent disease.

“That wood should be burned, because there are some fungal pathogens that will colonize dying limbs, for example, dying trees; and those potentially could spread to weak trees in the orchard,” Sundin said.

Michigan ranks third behind Washington State and New York in apple production.

Get more information from MSU Extension and see photos HERE.

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