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Re: E-M:/ Current heat wave

Enviro-Mich message from Gary Stock <gstock@net-link.net>

"Alex J. Sagady & Associates" wrote:

> While I could be thankful enough for the current heat wave that
> enabled me to install new front and rear brakes and master cyclinder
> on my 94 Ford Taurus stationwagon this past week, I'm wondering whether this
> weather is going to wreak havoc on the Michigan fruit tree industry
> with pre-mature budding followed by freezing weather.   Any fruit
> farmers out there for a prognostication of this, especially on the west
> side of the state?

I'm not a fruit farmer, but I'm surrounded by them (literally).

Their concerns seem to fall into three categories, in order of concern

   1) risk of early buds and blooms being killed by a "normal" frost

   2) lack of a long, stable chilling period required by some fruits

   3) lack of winterkill among weeds, pests, diseases -- even mildew

It's not mentioned as frequently, but I suspect that another mismatch --
early flowering, before pollinators emerge -- will break the bank for
some farmers in coming years.  Decades hence, pollinators may acclimate
and get back in synch.  However, some insect species may remain stuck in
a day-length pattern (hmmm... presuming _that_ doesn't change!),
responding less to temperature than do exposed tree and bush buds.  In
any case, plants are likely to precede pollinators for many seasons to come.

Personally, I believe the trend toward flashier precipitation events
will take its toll as well.  The fact that winter precipitation is
dispersed in minutes or hours -- rather than in weeks or months -- will
have terrible effects over time, and not merely on agriculture.  

The first phenomenon listed above -- typical frost or freeze dates
within an accelerated flowering period -- damaged most crops, and
destroyed most of the grape crop in 2006 (Welch's Michigan headquarters
is a mile west of here):


   Grapes were the hardest hit by the freeze suffering severe damage.
   Juice grapes were more advanced than wine grapes and have more
   obvious damage.  Over large areas almost all the growing shoots 
   were killed and growers report that many secondary buds had pushed
   and were killed also...

After-season summary:


   The juice grape crop was reduced to only about a quarter of the
   state average, only a few hundred acres with normal yields. 
   Thousands of acres suffered a crop loss of 75% or more.  Vineyards
   on flat ground whether it was high or low suffered extensive damage.
   Vineyards on slopes with good air drainage suffered less damage. 
   Many growers cut back on pesticide applications to save money. 
   This caused significant disease problems late in the season. 

Similar trouble up north:


   A freeze event occurred on the morning of 5/6 in NW Michigan. The
   May 6th inversion freeze event caused significant damage to tree
   fruit crops in NW Michigan. Any tree fruit crop, including apples
   and cherries, in an area with poorer air drainage was badly damaged.
   Apples were generally in pink at the time and appear to have sustained
   the most damage, due in part to the location of many apples relative 
   to the sites on which cherries are planted. The freeze was severe 
   enough that even on some high sites with good air drainage, cherries 
   in bloom sustained some damage on the tops of limbs. 

The general case:


Maps of concern:


Flash animation:


If you're not scared yet, you're not paying attention!


Gary Stock                                        gstock@unblinking.com
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     The best proof for a claim that terrorists are crazy or evil
     would be to acknowledge that the White House is full of them

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