WATERVLIET – Southwest Michigan farmers said an unseasonably warm March caused their crops to bud early, but frequent freezes in April killed bulbs.
Rodney Winkle believes farming is a lot like gambling.
"You never give up in this game," said Winkel of Grandview Orchards.
Winkle admits he's on the losing end.
We talked to him on a snowy and cold April 10 as his workers picked asparagus in the snow.
"It's the first time in 43 years of farming that I picked asparagus in the snow," he said on the 10th.
Back then, Winkel feared cold temperatures would ruin his apple crop, but he had to play the hand he was dealt – Apple buds and an asparagus crop that were both 30 days ahead of schedule because of an unusually warm month of March.
"It's definitely gambling," said Winkel. "I can't control the weather, I can't control the markets and those are things that affect my bottom line," he said.
Over the next 30 days, Winkel got the wild card – four freezes that did him and some of his crops in.
He was able to salvage some of his asparagus crop, but for everything else – nothing.
"[I] haven't seen it like this before," he said. "I talked to older farmers and looked back at weather records – no one has seen it like this."
On the apple trees, you should be able to see nickel, dime maybe even quarter sized apples, but you won't find any apples on any tree.
Winkel said it's like this all across Michigan – the state's cherry crop, peach crop and 95 percent of the apple crop – all wiped out.
So what does that mean for you? Winkel said it's too early to tell.
"If this is as big as we think it might be, you might see a slight price rise," he said. "At this point in time, I wouldn't want to speculate on that."
Winkel said farmers are optimistic in central Michigan. Because farms there are more inland, buds there didn't arrive quite as early.