Poor blueberry crop blamed on hot May

SOUTH HAVEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Some West Michigan farmers are singing the blueberry blues. This year’s blueberry yield was down dramatically.

Mark Longstroth, a fruit educator with Michigan State University, has been advising the Michigan blueberry industry for 25 years. This year, he said, growers picked about 66 million pounds of blueberries, down from the 100 million pound average.

“In fact, I know there are people who didn’t even harvest some fields,” Longstroth said. “They looked at them and said, ‘It’s not worth the money that it would cost to pick those.’”

Blueberry farmers usually worry about cold winters or spring frosts. This year, the problem was that it was too warm.

"We learned that they really don’t like hot weather," Longstroth said of the berries.

“We’ve seen pollination periods that were too cold before, but we haven’t seen pollination periods that were too hot,” he continued. “Remember in May we had a really hot stretch in the middle of May, and then right around Memorial Day we had four or five days in the 90s, which are really unusual for here in Michigan.”

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