Harsh winter puts Door County cherries behind schedule

DOOR COUNTY – If you’re planning an outing to Door County to check out the cherry blossoms, you may have to rethink your plans.

Harsh winter conditions have put the crop about three weeks behind schedule.

Growers say they hope warmer temperatures can give them a fair crop this season.

On a 32-acre orchard near Egg Harbor, David Schartner says cherry buds are all that can be seen.

“This is probably one of the latest years that I ever remember that we’re having a bloom so late. On a normal year, we should be in full bloom by the middle of May, those cherries should be white blossoms,” said David Schartner with Schartner’s Farm Market.

Schartner says sub-zero temperatures damaged some of his sweet cherries.

“We had a couple of nights of 20 below. So some varieties we lost some of the fruit buds. They just won’t grow and blossom, so there will be no fruit on some of the trees,” said Schartner.

And even about 20 miles to the south, it’s a similar story. The owner of Robertson Orchards says the cherry blossoms are far from ready.

“At least two weeks. I figure two or three weeks, but it was a really cold winter, so the buds never really progressed at all, so they’re staying pretty dormant, so that’s one good thing,” said Kris Robertson, Robertson Orchards owner.

Robertson says this year he has had only one night of dangerous frost at his orchard near Sturgeon Bay.

“They’re pretty much staying still. I mean they’re not moving at all,” said Robertson.

Robertson says warm temperatures will trigger the bloom.

“Once we get the 70-degree weather, they’ll move along pretty quick,” said Robertson.

Meanwhile, Schartner says he will open his farm market this week.

“It’s coming slow, but sure. You don’t want to look at a calendar, because you think you’re always behind, which we are, but that’s the way the weather worked this spring,” said Schartner.

Tourism officials indicate Door County is the fourth-largest cherry producer in the nation. Growers typically harvest between 8-12 million pounds of cherries each year.

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