By Sara Powers

SPARTA, Mich. (AP) — A spring freeze will likely put a fall chill on the size of Michigan’s apple harvest.

The state is expected to produce 18.25 million bushels of apples this year, down from 22 million in 2020, the Michigan Apple Committee reported, citing a forecast from an industry trade show in Chicago.

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Some growing areas in April had temperatures in the 20-degree range, said Diane Smith, executive director of the committee.

“Even with frost protection tools and the apple trees’ natural defense mechanisms, some of the fruit was lost. However, there will still be plenty of apples for consumers to enjoy this fall,” Smith said.

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There are more than 14 million apple trees in commercial production at hundreds of Michigan farms, especially in western Michigan and the northern Lower Peninsula. The state typically ranks third in the U.S. in apple production.

“When apple trees produce a smaller crop, energy is stored and directed toward production for the next crop,” Smith said. “The industry is hopeful we’ll see a larger crop next year.”

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