Almost a week after spring’s arrival and snow is still in the air. Yet some Michigan plants haven’t reached what’s called their chilling requirement. Extension Educator Mark Longstroth says this term refers to the number of hours above freezing during months of dormancy – ideally in the 35 t0 40-degree range – needed to move fruit plants ahead with their spring growth. There weren’t many of those hours in January and February. It’s only been during the last couple of weeks that we’ve seen this range of readings happen more frequently. He says many fruit plants in our state require a total of a thousand to 12-hundred hours to reach their chilling requirement – and many haven’t quite made it to the one-thousand mark. We’ll get there, but a chilly Lake Michigan is leading to a slow warm up. He says growers aren’t unhappy with the situation as a slower wake up period can prove a crop year saver. Remember two springs ago. Overall – Longstroth says the long winter has caused some damage in peaches and wine grapes but nothing truly catastrophic…no widespread crop failure is looming at this time.
That’s about as positive a report as you’re likely to hear on the winter of 2013-14.