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Michigan apple farm gets creative to protect crop from potential freeze

<i>WNEM via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Freeland residents may have smelled a little smoke this morning
WNEM via CNN Newsource
Freeland residents may have smelled a little smoke this morning

By La’Nita Brooks and Hannah Mose

Click here for updates on this story

    FREELAND, Michigan (WNEM) — Freeland residents may have smelled a little smoke this morning, and that’s because a local apple farm got creative to keep their apples from freezing.

TV5′s La’Nita Brooks spoke with the owner about what technique they used to save their crop.

“We’ll open them up and we’re looking to see if there is any browning. And this particular one, you see it’s all nice and green inside. So, this one is good to go,” Brooks said.

It was an unexpected night for John Leaman.

“We were out there until 6 or 6:30,” he said.

But his day started at 2 a.m. After spending the night tracking the weather, he quickly realized his apples were in trouble.

“What happened last night is in this area, according to the MSU Weather Station that’s over close to the airport, this area had 24 degrees for about a three- or four-hour period sustained,” Leaman said.

He is the co-owner of Leaman’s Green Appplebarn in Freeland. He said that due to the unseasonably warm weather, the blossoms are ahead of schedule, putting them at great risk to the freezing temperatures. So, early this morning they created fires to protect the orchard from the cold using bales of hay.

“What we were hoping to do, I mean we didn’t have any illusions that was going to warm up the whole area because that’s a three-acre space back there. But what we were hoping to do, was that it would warm up some space but also create a cloud layer of smoke that would help keep the warm temperatures in,” he said.

According to a report by MSU, freezing temperatures of 28 degrees will result in about a 10 percent loss and 24 degrees in a 90 percent loss.

Leaman said while some loss is good, he’s hopeful they didn’t lose too much

“We’re checking out the trees carefully, today and the next couple of days to see what kind of damage or what kind of kill there was,” he said.

He said regardless, Michigan will have apples this year.

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