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Temps in the teens may threaten fruit crop

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WEST MICHIGAN — You wouldn’t necessarily expect overnight low temperatures in the teens this time of year since our average/normal low is 34. That said, conditions are right with high pressure over the state, clearing skies, light winds, and a dry air mass for such cold.

There are several fruit growers around West Michigan. Some of the best apples, cherries, and peaches are grown right here! I know several of these folks “on the ridge” in Kent County. According to the National Weather Service, the season is a bit further ahead in our southern counties where some of the buds have begun to sprout.

Our entire area will be under the threat of a widespread frost and hard freeze, but the counties of Allegan, Van Buren, Kalamazoo, and Calhoun have been placed in a FREEZE WARNING from 1AM until 9AM Tuesday morning. Click here to read their warning.

Freeze damage to apple, peach, and cherry trees can begin around 23/24 degrees. Some growers may be able to mitigate some of the damage by running huge fans in the fields. Those fans stir up the atmosphere and break the temperature inversion that sets up and allows the cold air to sink to the ground and damage the buds. By operating the fans in strategic locations, it brings the slightly warmer air down from above and mixes up/out the colder air at/near the ground.

Some farmers also choose to water the trees so the ice forms a protective barrier around the bud. I don’t know specifically at what temperature this aids the fruit tree, but I know it has worked many times in the past.

We’ll warm to highs in the 40s with plenty of sunshine Tuesday, but the primary concern will be those early morning lows in the teens that do the damage. Most lows should end up between about 18 and 22 degrees. Keeping my fingers crossed for my neighbors and our West Michigan fruit growers! Get the complete West Michigan forecast at www.fox17online.com/weather.

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