By: Olivia Franklin
Summary: Summer 2019 was not the best for Michigan cherry growers due to the arrival of spotted wing drosophila (SWD), an invasive Asian fruit fly, that like to lay their larvae inside the soft flesh of cherries. SWD can also cause American brown rot, a fast growing fungus, on cherries. Numbers of SWD peaked in July. Harvesters must spray their cherry crops in order to get rid of these pests which is costly, both in terms of money and the environment. Heavy rains in May and June and a cool, late spring also caused problems for Michigan cherry growers. Late spring delayed the start of cherry season and hail storms damaged cherries, making them unsellable. Heavy rains also allowed a fungus to thrive that turns cherry leaves yellow and unable to nourish itself. Arguably the biggest reason for despair in the Michigan cherry industry is that profits are down due to a high number of tart cherry imports from Turkey. Turkey is bringing in such a large amount of tart cherry products at prices lower than production that Michigan cherry crops are starting to be phased out. Growers were told mid-harvest that processors had all the cherries they would need for the season. Many growers ended up having to dump much of their crops, losing lots of money. Cherry growers are pointing their fingers at the Cherry Industry Administrative Board for allowing overproduction and at the government for allowing these foreign imports that are destroying the Michigan cherry industry. However, cherry growers are pushing for change. Processors are gaining evidence that Turkish imports are a threat to the Michigan cherry industry in order to implement a high tariff on cherries from Turkey.
Why we should care? Michigan cherry industry could be lost completely if change doesn’t occur within the government. Traverse City could lose its title of “Cherry Capital of the World”. Pesticide use could also be a concern.
Example News Article:
I find this article interesting because this is a problem that I had no idea existed and, as a person who lives in Michigan, it’s even more important because this is an issue happening near and around me. Cherry growers care so much about their industry and are willing to do whatever it takes to save it. Processors are spending a lot of money to prove that Turkish imports are damaging the U.S. cherry industry. The Trump administration has implemented many antidumping duty orders, but it hasn’t been enough to solve this issue. The cherry industry needs help. This article emphasizes the importance of supporting local business and the importance of voting.
Science in Action.
Nikki Rothwell is a Horticulturist, Michigan State University Extension Specialist and Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center Coordinator.
Rothwell has conducted research on spotted wing drosophila (SWD), examining the correlation between temperature/humidity and trap numbers. Higher temperatures and humidity levels result in higher numbers of SWD. She notes that cherry growers may think that successful
spray programs would be the reason for a decreasing amount of SWD in fields, but it largely relies on weather conditions. This is relevant to my topic because SWD are known for infesting ripening cherry crops. Rothwell’s research provides some insight as to why this is happening and also ways to navigate this issue. This issue is complex and solutions are still being searched for, but Nikki encourages tart cherry growers to diversify crops and to employ efficacious insecticides before the infestation of SWD becomes too great.