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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mixed blessing: March temps in the mid to high 70s

Not all in West Michigan are pleased with this week's unseasonably warm temperatures.

By Steve Siciliano

“Sure is a nice morning,” I commented yesterday to the old fella who had come into the store for some wine making supplies. If I was more observant I would have taken a clue from the worn bib overalls and the frayed cap with the “John Deere” logo. I would have noticed the worn hands when I handed him his change, the weathered face, and the old pickup truck out in the parking lot. “Not if you’re a farmer,” he snapped back. “You aren’t going to be happy if it freezes.”

He didn’t expound on the cryptic comment and he didn’t have to. I knew he was referring to the fact that the string of unseasonably warm, mid-March temperatures was disrupting the natural rhythms. That if the warmth continued the area’s fruit trees would begin budding and that there was way too much time left for a cold snap to destroy the possibility of a bountiful fall harvest.

I also knew that when he said “you” he was referring to all of us who aren’t farmers and who don’t think about the fact that 70-degree temperatures in March are a possible bane rather than a fortuitous boon. Perhaps he was even specifically referring to us winemakers and cider makers who fret about pH and fermentation temperatures but rarely give a second thought to the weather.

That evening I sat on my backyard deck for the first time in months. I heard the distinctive, whistled phrases of a cardinal and looking up spotted a splash of red high in the bare branches of a maple. I smoked a cigar and thought about all the people who were outside enjoying temperatures that were approaching the 80’s. Then I thought about that old fella walking through an orchard of waking trees, and worrying.

A screen grab from Facebook highlights the difference
in perspective between farmers/growers and the rest of us.
The grab is from this morning, March 15, about 8am.


  1. Steve, Steve, Steve. See what happens when YOU try to engage in idle chit-chat?

  2. Many of the farmers are worried up here in Grand Traverse as well since its the cherry region, but on the other hand, we're also the hop region. These temps early on are a good thing for us hop farmers. The girls can sprout 12'tall if they'd like, a late frost could knock 'em back to the dirt, and they'd come back stronger. Early season warmth = higher alphas. I'm worried for my friends, but excited for this years hop crop.

  3. As always good and bad is a matter of perspective. This also makes you wonder how the weather will affect honey bees. What types of honey might we miss out on if we lose certain crops?

  4. I have worried about this too. This whole year has made me feel uneasy about the weather. First, Winter never really came, and now it's feeling like Spring won't either.