March has Cherry Republic looking ahead to this year’s cherry crop full of hope for a bountiful season. To find out how the Michigan cherry industry is doing, we checked in recently with the coordinator of MSU’s Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center, Dr. Nikki Rothwell.
Q: Was the 2021 cherry season a success? How did it compare to previous years?
“We have been having shorter tart cherry crops in recent years, but last year was pretty profitable for those that had fruit. We also had a year with low SWD (Spotted Wing Drosophila) pressure, so growers breathed a sigh of relief. We had a dry spring, which caused a slow rise in the SWD populations here in NW Michigan.”
Q: Overall, is the cherry tree acreage in Michigan holding its own?
“I think we are still sitting between 30,000-35,000 acres of tarts in the state. We have not seen huge changes in tart cherry acreage in the last five years. We have fewer growers, but the acreage has been pretty consistent.”
Q: So how does the 2022 growing season look?
“We are setting ourselves up for a great crop this year. We had a slow start to winter, so the trees acclimated well, and we have had consistent cold this winter, which helps trees avoid winter damage. Hopefully, we will start the spring with a gradual warm-up so we can avoid those frost/freeze events in the spring. For orchards that had a light crop last year, we should be in for a big crop this year.”