Thursday March 9, 2017
Dichotomous Farmers: Enjoying Warm Sunshine but Hoping for More Winter
Many Michiganders are rejoicing at the sight of the sun in February and the unseasonably warm temperatures that have accompanied it as of late. It has indeed been an unusually warm winter overall in Northwest Michigan. I love downhill and cross-country skiing and if you enjoy winter sports like me, this has been quite frustrating. If your outdoor activities cease at shoveling a path to your car so you can warm it up for your drive to work, you may be singing and dancing in the now snowless streets. At least we can all agree that the sunshine has been glorious.
Most fruit growers greet an early spring with a cold shoulder. It often brings worry that early warm temperatures can trigger too-soon responses in plants - waking them up from their winter dormancy only to have the inevitable April frosts damage their freshly emerged sensitive green tissue. This can result in partial to total crop loss for fruit growers. We recall years when this has been the case but sometimes an early spring can lead to a spectacular and long growing season, one we’re certainly hoping for!
While we can’t control the weather, we can respond accordingly. We’ve begun pruning the vines, which is two weeks earlier than we normally would but, we will not prune away quite so much wood initially. Instead, we’ll select some additional spurs and canes to keep for now as an insurance policy against the frost. We also know that the weather will invariably cool down again this month and into April, which is normal for Northwest Michigan.
So it’s with a keen eye that we observe the weather forecasts, hoping for temperatures to stay seasonable, but all the while enjoying the sight of the sun. Here’s to a great 2017 growing season for Shady Lane Cellars!
Vineyard Manager - Shady Lane Cellars