BELDING, MICH. - One West Michigan apple grower is taking all of the necessary precautions to keep his apple orchards safe from the possibility of below-freezing temperatures.
"Basically, what we'll do tomorrow morning about noon, we'll take this little fruitlet and slice this little guy and we'll look at the seeds inside and if they're brown or black -- the chances are this little fruitlet here will fall off the tree," Hart Farm owner Chris Kropf said.
Fortunately, Kropf has 15 frost fans, which should help warm up the air Sunday night, assuming the winds cooperate.
"We take these great big frost fans, which are 35 feet in the air and we can actually suck warm out of the inversion area which could be up to 100 feet off the ground and bring that warm air back into the orchards," Kropf said.
On a good night, the fans can raise the temperature up six degrees in the orchard, which might not seem like a lot.
"Sometimes a little bit means a lot," Kropf said. "Like I said, two degrees to six degrees can be huge when it comes to saving an apple crop or reducing injury on the fruitlet.
""The prediction is 28 tonight and if we can raise the temperature to 34, there won't be one injured bud in the orchard whatsoever."
Otherwise his crops could suffer big time.
"It'll injure the fruit bud, and that'll start occurring anywhere from 30 degrees or below and it doesn't take much time whatsoever," Kropf said.
Each frost fan can span 10 to 12 acres.
"We're about 100-percent covered but if we get a little bit of wind tonight, they won't do us a lot of good," Kropf said.
The fans use 15 gallons of propane an hour.
"I think we'll probably running fans maybe around midnight, 1 o'clock," Kropf said. "We're optimistic, it could be a bad night but like i said we have a lot of potential fruitlets and flowers on these trees, and they're pretty tough trees.
"We'll see what happens."
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