SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) - It's no doubt been a rotten apple season in Michigan. Almost 90 percent of the state's crop was destroyed, and by Saturday, nearly all growers will be done harvesting, including Jim May in Sparta.
The season usually runs until November 1. The apples coming down from the trees on Friday didn't look pretty.
"This one here is from frost, that's frost damage," said Jim May. "This apple is elongated on this side."
An April freeze and spring frosts killed off 75 percent of May's crop, pushing harvest up five weeks early.
"The fruit is not normal, it's deformed, the size isn't there, the color isn't there," he said.
But what looks like a bad apple, doesn't taste that way, says John Schaefer, president of Jack Brown Produce in Sparta.
"That really doesn't hurt the quality of the fruit," he said.
But that doesn't mean consumers will buy them, so most of the apples from his 75 Michigan growers that normally ship worldwide, are instead heading to Gerber to be made into baby food. And because Schaefer only received 10 percent of a normal crop, most of his 84 employees are heading out the door next month, including Yesenia Chavez.
"I'm really worried because I have lots of bills to pay and everything and now it's going to be really hard because there's nothing to do now," she said.
"Normally, this organization will pack and sell apples until May, June, perhaps July of next year if it was a normal harvest," said Schaefer.
The economic hit to the state is $110 million, according to Michigan State University District Horticulture Agent Amy Irish Brown. But that's just the crop. Brown says factoring in employee wages, supporting businesses, pesticides, packing boxes, etc., it's at least $220 million, probably more.
But Michigan's loss is another state's gain.
"They're going to be buying Washington apples. Michigan apples, by the first of November, there won't be a Michigan apple left to be packed," said May.
Schaefer says despite this year's tough time, the trees are having a good rest, and there's a good chance Michigan will have a bumper crop next year. But he says the industry will have to work to get their share of the market back from Washington.