Michigan fruit farmers expecting a lot of peaches amid great fruit growing conditions

Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 6:24 PM EDT
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BERRIEN SPRINGS, Mich. (WNDU) -Hildebrand Fruit Farms picks their first peach crop of the season, and they say there’s a lot more where that came from.

It was just two years ago our own Jack Springgate was splitting open blossoms up at Hildebrand Fruit Farms to see how frost and cold temps wipe out a lot of potential fruit, but on Friday he saw how good weather not only leads to a lot more peaches but a lot tastier ones too.

“We didn’t have any spring frosts and it was a cool, wet spring and so it kind of held everything back. Then when it turned warm, it turned warm right away,” Hildebrand Fruit Farms owner Mike Hildebrand.

That’s why he says this year’s peach crop is making up for the past few years.

That wasn’t the case for these buds he showed us two years ago. They got hit with frost before it was warm enough to pollinate and never had the chance to turn into fruit.

“In the last couple of years, it’s been difficult to market them because people call and say, ‘hey I need some’, and I’m like ‘maybe’. This year it’s just so much easier to say yes, when,” Hildebrand said.

Hildebrand and his partner growers are expecting a full crop that will stock shelves from Wisconsin to Ohio, to your local Martin’s supermarket.

They even have enough to fill some of the demand left by southern peach growers who are facing smaller yields due to cold temps of their own.

“There’s been some crop shortages in the south. Some late frost, some hail storms, and then you throw in $6 fuel and it costs an arm and a leg to get those southern peaches up here,” he said.

The corn and soybean farmer I spoke to before last week’s timely rain said drought conditions were hurting their chances for good yields, but Hildebrand says that doesn’t matter after a wet spring and even makes for a sweeter peach.

“You have little roots that are sprouting on the corn and it’s all at the surface, where a tree is a perennial crop so the roots go deep down into the ground. We had a lot of moisture this spring so the ground was full of moisture and those roots are able to go tap into that moisture. The sugar should be really high in the peaches. It’s not diluted with a whole bunch of extra rain,” Hildebrand said.

Making this year’s peach crop stand out in both quality and quantity.

They say they only have clingstone peaches right now, but freestones will start coming in around Aug. 1st.

They’re not just excited about peaches. Hildebrand says he’s expecting full pear and apple crops too.

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