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Fruit farmers 'concerned, but hopeful' ahead of freeze warning

The lowest temperatures are expected overnight Wednesday.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A freeze warning in West Michigan has area farmers concerned over the potential loss of their budding fruit crops. 

"It's one of those things where we really can't do much about it," said Pete Versluis, a manager of Versluis Orchards. 

The Grand Rapids area orchard business has its fruit trees situated on hills, as the elevation helps preserve the crops when temperatures dip, Versluis said. 

"They can take around 27, 28 (degrees), where you lose about 10 percent. If it gets down into the low 20s, then you can lose up to 90 percent," Versluis said. "So, we'll just hope that it will stay above 28."

The lowest temperatures are expected overnight Wednesday. 

Versluis Orchards has about 100 acres of apple trees, 10 acres of peaches and two acres of cherries. Versluis said all three are vulnerable to the low temperatures. 

"Concerned, but hopeful, and I remain optimistic that we're going to have a crop this year," Versluis said.

Versluis and another Grand Rapids area farmer Todd Quick of Peach Ridge Farms say they haven't invested in the fans and other equipment that some farmers utilize to offset the impact of a freeze. 

"Those aren't really options for me here," Quick said. "It's too expensive for my small farm."

After a difficult year of sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the outcome of this freeze could be "catastrophic," Quick said. 

Some of Quick's peach trees are in full bloom. 

"It could potentially wipe everything out, but you know, you have to look on the bright side," he said Monday.

"If you're in this business, you love this business. That's the way it is. You got to love it, and I do. I love what I do, and I'm grateful to have it," Quick said. 

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