Not so sweet storm destroys cherry trees


armers across Leelanau County are assessing damage to tart cherry trees brought on by last week's violent snow storm.

County officials have filed paperwork to declare the damaged orchards an agricultural disaster, a move that could bring some financial relief to farmers.

Jim Hawley who manages Stoney Point Orchards in Suttons Bay can't believe what the snow storm did to his 400 acre farm. Dozens of 30-year old tart cherry trees split in half, other trees lost thick branches.

Hawley says, "Ever since I got out of college back in the 70's and came back to the farm, we've never seen damage like this. Not even close."

Stoney Point Orchards is divided into several sections, Hawley says in some spots 40% of the tart cherry trees are destroyed. Replacing them means waiting up to ten years for a stront yield.

MSU Extension Educator, Robert Sirrine says, "It's not like a one year freeze where most trees will be back the next year. This is permanent damage. So many of these trees will have to be replaced."