Clayton Township apple farmer loses 90% of crop due to cold weather

Some of Mid-Michigan's apple farmers lost most of their crop due to recent freezes.

The growing season is just getting underway in mid-Michigan, but already some farmers have lost a big part of their crop.

Apples were one fruit hit hardest by this recent freeze.

The brown apple blossoms are a sign they did not survive after the cold couple of night’s we’ve had.

"Almost all of my expense is already in this crop, and I just lost it," says Almar Orchards owner Jim Koan.

Apple farming is in Jim Koan's blood.

"My dad planted the first orchard here in 1948, the year I was born, my mom was in the hospital having me and he was planting trees," said Koan.

This year looks to be an especially disappointing harvest.

He estimates ninety percent of his crop was killed by the freeze earlier this week.

"This one's dead now because all of this little pollen is brown now and not white and green, the frost took this one," he explains.

He says data from MSU shows in the last 17 years a freeze damaged Michigan apples 5 times, compared to only 4 times in the 100 years before that.

Koan blames changing weather patterns.

"My job is dependent on the weather,” he describes.

His farm faces another growing problem, a declining bee population.

MSU extension's bee expert says many hives get shipped around the country where they catch diseases.

"In the spring time we would still have most of our bees left but now all the bees are sick so even though they might live through the summer time the winter is too hard on them and they're too weak, so out of 40 hives we'll have maybe 2 of them that survive the winter," said Koan.

Despite their challenges, don't expect Almar Orchards to close up anytime soon.

He plans to pass on the farm to the next generation.

"There's going to be a niche for them and they'll be successful because they may have an off-arm job too in as well as their farm job,” he described.

The owner of Almar Orchards says there is a somewhat positive side to the story.

Last year's crop was much better and will help offset this year's losses.

He will still have enough apples to sell at the orchard this fall.

He just won't have much to sell to wholesale.

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