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Mich. tree, pumpkin crops survived weather

Sept. 22, 2012 at 5:50 PM

LANSING, Mich., Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Michigan farmers say Christmas tree and pumpkin crops are OK despite poor weather conditions this year.

Unseasonably warm weather in March followed by several nights of freezes and a drought early in the summer wreaked havoc on most Michigan crops -- including apples, peaches and cherries -- driving up prices for consumers, the Detroit Free Press reported Saturday.

Christmas trees and pumpkins seemed to do fine, though.

"We've got a great crop of pumpkins this year. They look really good," said Glen Mitchell, owner of Mitchell Farms in Holly, which has been in his family for 175 years. "We were extremely dry for like a month and a half, but then we started getting moisture and things revived -- amazingly, because it didn't look possible."

Tree farmer Frank Rimi said he lost 30 percent to 50 percent of the more than 2,000 seedlings he planted at his Addison-Oaks Christmas Tree Farm in Oakland Township.

"You always plant more than you expect to sell," Rimi said. "But that's pretty significant. Normally you wouldn't expect to lose that much."

However, as trees take eight to 10 years to mature, more saplings can be planted in the intervening years to make up for saplings lost this year, said Marsha Gray, executive director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association.

"We certainly were impacted by the drought and as much by the heat as the drought, but we want consumers to be confident it doesn't impact the large trees that are ready to harvest," Gray said.

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