‘We live for these years’

Local farmers optimistic for high crop yield

Calvin Lutz I inspects peach trees, looking for bees, at Lutz Farm in Kaleva on Friday. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

Calvin Lutz I inspects peach trees, looking for bees, at Lutz Farm in Kaleva on Friday. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

MANISTEE COUNTY — Farms are in full bloom in Manistee County.

Crops from strawberries to peaches to asparagus are looking good so far this season, local farmers said this week. Even the long and cold winter can be counted as a positive.

“It delayed everything back, especially the cherries, asparagus and strawberries,” said Calvin Lutz II, owner of Lutz Farms. “But that means there’s less chance of frost. No one realizes, but this is more toward a normal spring. The last 20 years have been exceptionally warm.”

Lutz Farms in Kaleva produces asparagus, strawberries, sweet and tart cherries, blueberries, peaches, sweet corn and Christmas trees.

Asparagus pokes out of the ground at Lutz Farms in Kaleva on Friday. It grows so quickly that the fields are picked one to two times a day. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

Asparagus pokes out of the ground at Lutz Farms in Kaleva on Friday. It grows so quickly that the fields are picked one to two times a day. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

The asparagus yield has been good so far, Lutz said. Harvesting began a couple weeks ago and will continue for another two weeks or so.

Strawberries will be the next to harvest, which will begin in about two weeks, and they look good so far, he said.

“The crops are looking up,” Lutz said.

The peach trees at the farm are blooming unexpectedly, said Calvin Lutz I, the owner’s father. The trees are being trimmed this week, after abandoning them as too damaged to bother after the harsh winter.

According to Michigan State University Extension, there were five blasts of Arctic air through Michigan during this past winter, and that caused damage to many tree buds and tissues.

Immigrant workers pick asparagus at Lutz Farm in Kaleva on Friday. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

Immigrant workers pick asparagus at Lutz Farm in Kaleva on Friday. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

However, it doesn’t seem to be a problem at Manistee County farms, besides delaying crops.

“We’re moving along,” said Allen Grossnickle, owner of Grossnickle Farms in Kaleva. “Things are late.”

Asparagus is about 10 days behind the schedule of the past few years, and strawberries are about a week behind, he said.

Raspberries and other garden crops will also be late, Grossnickle said. Grain will be late because of the heavy rainfall.

Cucumbers will be planted in about a week, he said.

Calvin Lutz I holds a piece of asparagus that has begun to bloom, and is considered a bad piece, at Lutz Farms in Kaleva on Friday. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

Calvin Lutz I holds a piece of asparagus that has begun to bloom, and is considered a bad piece, at Lutz Farms in Kaleva on Friday. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

“Everything looks perfect,” said Cliff Boomer, founder of Douglas Valley, a winery and fruit farm in Manistee. “We live for these years.”

Douglas Valley produces grapes, apples, cherries, corn and an eight-acre vegetable garden.

“Everything, right now, looks wonderful,” Boomer said. “Even though it’s a late season and the winter was cold, it looks to be a full crop on everything. All the growers are enthusiastic and excited. It’s looking to be about as good as it can be.”

Strawberries will be ready for picking in about two weeks. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

Strawberries will be ready for picking in about two weeks. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

The wet spring was also beneficial, he said. The ground is well-charged with water, meaning there’s little chance of drought.

At Urka Farms in Brethren, strawberries will be ready for picking in a couple weeks, said Joy Urka, the owner’s wife.

“The crops look quite good, except that they’re going to be late,” she said. “There’s nothing we can do about it.”

Cherry trees are beginning to drop their flowers at Lutz Farms in Kaleva on Friday. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

Cherry trees are beginning to drop their flowers at Lutz Farms in Kaleva on Friday. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

Apple Valley Orchards in Bear Lake is also having a good year, said owner Dave Meister.

“Everything looks like it has the potential to be a full crop,” he said.

The orchard produces apples, sweet and tart cherries, peaches and Christmas trees.

Weather has been great for pollination, and the bees have been working hard, Meister said.

“Hopefully we make it through, and everything will be OK,” he said.

avatar

Posted by Justine McGuire

Leave a Reply