This is a translation of what I published in Japanese.
When I started blogging, I decided to make my blog bilingual. I don’t want to limit it to Japanese, although my blog is primarily aimed for Japanese readers. With my limited English writing skill, it’s not easy to re-write it in English (-_-;) If you have tried to learn a foreign language, you know what I mean. Translation software doesn’t work well at all…but I will try my best (^^).
Autumn in Michigan
Farmers’ markets are full of delicious-looking Michigan apples.
Uh, oh, these photos are from last year when I visited Fruit Acres Farms in Coloma in southwestern Michigan.
They had tons of my favorite Honey Crisp apples – I was in heaven.
And this year…
The photo below is Nye’s Market in St. Joseph (about 2 weeks ago).
The apples did not look very good.
There were not many, and the shapes and the colors were not so great.
There was the explanation above the apples.
The staff of Nye’s Market said they did not have a lot more to come (so I should buy now). She said this year had been a terrible year.
Several days later, I called Wiard’s Orchard in Ypsilanti in southeastern Michigan. I asked on the phone if they have Apple U-pick this year. She said no (as I expected). I had read in the Pure Michigan e-newsletter that the unprecedented heat waves last March destroyed 90% of the apples in the entire Michigan.
Two days after that, I heard on the radio the marketing lady of Wiard’s Orchard announcing they have no apple U-pick this year and explaining why. She emphasized that the cider mill is open as usual. Did she decide to be on the local radio, maybe because they received many inquiries like mine? Or maybe they had visitors who arrived there only to be disappointed.
Many cider mills are open as usual, with only the difference this year that the apple cider is made from apples imported from other states. Good logistics
Michigan is No. 3 in the U.S. in apple production behind Washington and New York (I did not know that).
But this year, it’s only 10% of the usual crop size.
The worst crop loss since the 1940s.
The grocery stores in my neighborhood are selling nothing but apples from Washington and New York. There were bags of apples labeled Locally Grown, but they were “locally grown” in New York state. They must have been originally packaged for people in New York before it was decided to divert some to Michigan.
What a relief that not all the states had terrible crop this year…
Not only apples but also cherries, peaches, and other fruits were damaged by the weather last spring. 85% of cherries and 95% of peaches in Michigan were lost.
This summer – all the peaches were from Washington. Usually we see a lot of Michigan peaches on sale in mid-summer, but this year there were none. I asked the clerk “you don’t have any Michigan peaches this year?” He replied, “oh, right, I have not seen any this year”. It was the first time I ever bought and ate Washington peaches. They were not bad.
Michigan is also a big producer of cherries. We also usually see a lot of Michigan bing cherries on sale in summer, but again, only Washington cherries this year. And they were not cheap.
The cardboard boxes stacked near the cherries – all say Washington
There was one thing great (and strange) – Rainier cherries which are usually very expensive were cheap this year for a while for some reason. Only $2.99/lb. You don’t get a chance like this often. I bought a lot. Did Washington have an unusually good crop of Rainier cherries?
Last March when we had two weeks of summer-like weather, people (including me) were delighted and enjoyed being outdoors in summer clothes. I myself felt lucky as I did not have to commute to work on snow and ice, but at the same time I was uneasy – something is wrong. The temperature rose above 80F. The TV news showed people playing beach volleyball on the Chicago beaches – beach volleyball in March in Chicago? Unheard of.
While we were enjoying the weather, the farmers must have dreaded.
What they feared became a reality. Toward the end of the two-week long heat waves, cherry trees bloomed. Peach trees bloomed. Other fruit trees bloomed Normally they don’t bloom until late April or early May. They were beautiful, but I felt it spooky.
The high temperature lasted so long that the trees were completely fooled.
And in April, the usual cold snaps came. The temperature dipped under the freezing point, which froze 85% – 95% of the fruit buds to death.
April in Michigan is often cold. There is a reason why fruit trees in Michigan don’t bloom until late April. They should never never bloom in March. We can’t be simply happy if it’s warm in March. We are often unaware of where our food comes from. We are disconnected. We can’t imagine what impact the weather may have on our future food supply.
The total damage of all fruit crops is estimated to be over $2 million. Governor Snyder requested federal disaster assistance. Here, I don’t understand –
The Republican Party’s slogan is “small government”. But they always seem eager to ask the Federal government for help whenever their states get hit by natural disasters. Why??
It’s sad that there are no apples in the apple trees when autumn arrives. It’s sort of like a childbirth everybody was looking forward to ended in a stillbirth.
The strange moving pattern of the jet stream has been on the news almost every year these days. The change in the moving pattern of the jet stream is said to be the cause of a lot of extreme weather we have been having. The summer-like weather in March was another one, and this was a big one.
And the changes in the moving pattern of the jet stream is said to be caused by the arctic warming.
That’s what I have been hearing and reading. If you are interested, here are the sources:
I hope it will be a normal (i.e. cold) March next year.
I can’t wait to eat my favorite Michigan Honey Crisp apples next autumn.