Spring Is No Bowl of Cherries for Michigan Growers
Up north, lousy spring weather has left Michigan’s cherry crop in the pits.
The freakish meteorological events of March—two weeks of midsummer temperatures, followed by successive nights of hard freeze—likely ruined nearly all the 185 million pounds of the Montmorency cherries harvested in Michigan each summer, according to farmers and state officials.
It is not just a local problem. While Michigan accounts for more than a fifth of America’s motor-vehicle production, it grows three-fourths of the nation’s tart cherries.
Hence the upheaval in the Cherry Republic.
The Cherry Republic retail chain sells cherry barbecue sauce, cherry blossom bath salts, cherry cream-cheese coffee cake, cherry salsa, cherry body lotion, cherry-scented candles, cherry sangria and cherry preserves.
At least it would sell them if it could get its hands on enough Michigan tart cherries. Last year, the company bought 1.5 million pounds for its 174 cherry products.
“About a month ago, we received a pallet of cherries and we were told this was going to be the last pallet,” said Cherry Republic production manager Terry Hornbaker. “At that point, we only had a week’s supply. And we had no answers of what we were going to do beyond that.”