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CHERRIES POISED TO BECOME THE

COMEBACK A taste of our coverage to celebrate National Cherry Month

D I K Lacking a 2012 crop, the cherry industry laid low. With health research, practical pricing and hopefully a big harvest on the horizon, Leelanau County’s Super Fruit looks ready to reclaim momentum.

February 7, 2013

Thank you, cherry sponsors “At the end of the day, when you want to frame it up, it all falls under the word partnership,” said Cherry Marketing Institute president Phil Korson. He was speaking of people, organizations and businesses that have had a positive impact upon the cherry industry. The Leelanau Enterprise would like to acknowledge our partners in publishing this tribute to National Cherry Month. Following are the names of sponsors of this section. You’ll also find their advertising messages inside.

Alper's Tree Sales B&Z Well Drilling Bayer Crop Science Blarney Castle Oil & Propane Boathouse Vineyards Bonek Agency Bramer Auto Supply, Inc. Cherry Bay Orchards Cherry Growers Cherry Marketing Institute Cherry Republic Cherryland Electric Cooperative Chimoski Bakery Crop Production Services Gillison's Variety Fabrication Ginop Sales Grand Traverse Rubber Gray & Company

Greenstone Farm Credit Hamilton Agronomy Honor Onekama Frankfort Building Supply Kasson Sand & Gravel LaCross Farms & Receiving Larkin Insurance Group, Inc. Leelanau Conservation District Leelanau Fruit Company Louis Gelder & Sons Co., Inc. Michelle's Miracle, Inc MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology Nevill Supply Northern Building Supply Northport Building Supply Northwestern Bank / Karol Haring

“We’ve got a lot happening this year, so please bring us lots of cherries.” Public relation specialist, in explaining plans to ramp up the demand for tart cherries. Story, Page 2 “If we would have been smart, we would have taken about one-third of our tart production and put it out in Utah.” Cherry grower panel member, in explaining that no orchards in Leelanau County were exempted from severe frost damage. Story, Page 3 “I haven’t heard of dollar store perfume, but at this point we’re willing to do just about anything to keep the deer out of our orchards.” One of several cherry growers concerned about deer damage, and expansion of Quality Deer Management rules. Story, Page 5 “I didn’t realize I was sleeping with a man that old.” One of several award recipients who have made long-term commitments to the cherry industry — and, in her case, to marriage. Story, Page 14

Old Mission Traders/ Cherry Stop Orchard Rite Wind Machines Pure Water Works Reister's Grower Services Riske Brown & Associates Runge Industries Send Receiving Station Stallman Chemical Star Truck Rental State Representative Ray Franz Summit Tree Sales Superior Wind Machine Service Tom's Food Markets Traverse City State Bank Voelker Implement Sales Wheelock & Sons Wilbur Ellis Chemicals Wilhelm Landscaping


Page 2, Section 3

THE LEELANAU ENTERPRISE

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cherry comeback ready to roll

CHERRY REMORSE

Expect cameras to roll in Leelanau County during the 2013 cherry harvest. The crop failure of last season put on hold a plan by a Chicago marketing firm to use the stories of Leelanau County growers as part of a campaign to promote cherries. “The best assets and storytellers are all of you,” said Michael Wehman of Weber Shandwick, who was speaking to growers at a Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI) event held last month. He is part of a three-person “cherry team” at the Chicago public relations firm whose work was cut short last year by a lack of cherries — and money. Cherry promotion funds are derived by a surcharge on each pound of cherries produced — meaning that few monies were collected from the meager 2012 crop in Michigan. The Michigan Cherry Committee, which collects the surcharge, usually contributes between $800,000 and $900,000 to CMI for cherry promotion and research. The amount raised from the 2012 cherry harvest was just $56,000. Deep cuts ensued. Weber Shandwick’s budget in 2012 was $1,174,500; it fell to $585,000 this year. “Our goal was to invest in promotion as much as possible,” CMI president Phil Korson said. “However, it still took a big hit. (New) health benefits research went to zero. However, we have invested heavily over the years and we will have science coming on line for about two years ...” Wehman said the promotion campaign “went quiet” — but didn’t completely shut up. “We were very focused and very selective, but we are not going away,” he said. Ads were cancelled in food industry publications. But with a 2013 crop on the horizon, Wehman said funds are in place to “turn up the heat” when a new crop comes in. Cherries will be billed as the “comeback fruit,” Wehman said. “And everybody loves a comeback story.” The cherry team plans to promote a slew of studies explaining the health benefits of cherries. Consumers can expect to read and view stories touting the abilities of cherries to do everything from preventing bad breath to reducing belly fat. “There have been years when we’ve had one new study to talk about. Now we’ve got three-four, depending upon how the cards fall,” Wehman told growers. Some of those stories will be told with

In the depths of tart cherry withdrawal, the result of a frozen-out 2012 crop that increased prices to the point of rationing in some family budgets, we can’t help but look forward to a healthy and bumper 2013 crop. Until then, we offer readers this karaoke favorite originally sung by Stevie Wonder, with a nod to our favorite heart-smart, joint-helping, vision-improving fruit. Sung to the tune of My Cherie Amour.

La la la la la la, La la la la la la My cherry no more, lovely as a summer day My cherry no more, distant as the Milky Way My cherry no more, pretty little one that I adore You’re the only fruit my heart beats for How I wish that you were mine La la la la la la, La la la la la la In a cafe or sometimes on a snowswept street I’ve called out for you, my little un-pitted treat My cherry no more, the one pained joints can’t ignore That’s behind that little smile I wore How I wish that we could dine La la la la la la, La la la la la la Maybe someday, you’ll fill my face above the crowd Maybe someday, your price will fall below the clouds

MICHAEL WEHMAN spoke last month to growers at the Cherry Marketing Institute. Leelanau County cherry orchards as a backdrop. Then after the harvest, Weber Shandwick is planning a “Red Re-launch.” Advertisements will resume in trade publications, and business-tobusiness promotions will ramp up. Wehman said a lack of funds caused the cherry team to work more efficiently. “We can be a little smaller and a little scrappier, and making sure everything we do is working better than ever,” he said. Wehman asked growers to supply the one ingredient that’s been missing. “We’ve got a lot happening this year, so please bring us lots of fruit to sell,” he said. — By Alan Campbell

Couples enjoy five decades of farm life Rich and Betty Popp have been married 51 years and have enjoyed the good life on the farm. (See story, page 16). Other long-married cherry couples in the county include Elmer and Millie Kalchik of Gills Pier and Jim and Dorothy Grant of Bingham Township. Both have been married for more than 50 years. We’d like to know of others with such longevity and would love to write their stories. Plese contact Amy Hubbell at 256-9827 or via email (amy@leelanaunews.com).

Oh, cherry no more, pretty little one that I adore You’re the only fruit my gout leaves for

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

THE LEELANAU ENTERPRISE

Cherry marketing an inundating task By Alan Campbell Of The Enterprise staff

Cherry Marketing Institute president Philip Korson — the institute’s only president in its history — spent his career trying to influence factors outside any one person’s control. In 2012, Mother Nature became the “X” factor. Korson, who hails from Centerville Township, seeks to promote tart cherries and help growers. He and other industry advocates found ways to drive up cherry consumption when the country shied away from pastries. Their work followed industry breakthroughs to mechanically shake trees to harvest, and ward off disease and pests. “The stars were really lined up for our industry this year,” Korson said. “Inventory carryover was short, and we had growing sales within our market, and the interest in tart cherries has gotten really strong. It’s been noted a couple times in national magazines that tarts are really in.” “In” as far as growing popularity, yes. But the stories did not mention that few tarts are “in” storage, the result of cherry buds in west Michigan orchards maturing in March only to be killed off by seasonal frosts. Production in northwest Michigan generally accounts for about 100 million pounds or more of tart cherries, driven by orchards in Leelanau County. In 2012, just 2.5 million pounds of tarts were harvested. While other regions in the U.S. offered up bumper crops, their market shares are small compared to Michigan. Total tart production in the United States fell from 234 million pounds in 2010 and 218 million pounds in 2011 to just 85 million pounds in 2012. The short crop surprised an industry accustomed to growing more cherries than there are mouths to feed. In past years, unsold cherries languished from one season to the next, causing cherry growers to search out new markets or even dump a portion of crops in orchards in efforts to

match consumption with production. Having few cherries in storage heading into the 2012 season was taken as a positive sign for the cherry industry — until the killing frosts. Surcharges placed on cherries have been used to fund studies proving the health benefits of tarts, and pay for a marketing program aimed to elevate the perception of cherries to a “healthy fruit.” Stagnant sales caused some grower grumbling early on in the marketing program, but apparently the effort was only building momentum. Strong demand pushed tart cherry sales in unrestricted markets from 150 million pounds in 2009 to 193 million pounds in 2010 — and to 213 million pounds in 2011. “I think that super fruit campaign is starting to pay off,” said Leelanau County cherry grower Gary Thornton, who has been in the business since 1998. “I was pretty down on it for awhile; we weren’t getting any rewards. Right after we brought in the guy from Got Milk (Jeff Manning, who still represents tart cherries), nothing happened. And then it took off.” While no figures are yet available for 2012, consumption is sure to have dropped because prices rose through price barriers, the result of a scarcity of tarts. Canned tart cherries were recently selling in Michigan for $1.16 per pound, compared to 21 cents per pound in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More recently, prices have hit $1.85 pound for tart cherries grown in the United States. “There is some indication that the price ceiling has been exceeded, and we’re starting to get pushback,” said Bob Gregory, who was named the 2012 cherry “industry person of the year.” He and his brother, Don, own Cherry Bay Orchards in Suttons Bay, as well as fruit orchards in west central Michigan and fruit processing facilities. With such a light crop, most of tart cherries already should be accounted for. But Gregory said

that “there are small quantities that are still out there.” Beyond the effect of high prices, the industry took precautions early to ensure the supply of cherries did not dry up, Korson said. “We imported a lot of product, record amounts of volume into the United States. Even though we didn’t have product ourselves, we brought in a lot of supply to satisfy the market where producers had shelf space that wasn’t satisfied,” Korson said. So much so, in fact, that for the first time Korson can remember the price of Polish cherries are included in food institute reports. Some 50.6 million pounds of tart cherries were imported, with 42.5 million pounds coming from Poland. Given that Poland is a competitor — and that Polish cherries are selling for 20 cents less per pound than U.S. cherries — are cherry industry leaders concerned about losing market share? “Are we concerned? Absolutely. Do we have a strategy to go after them? Yes,” said Korson. For instance, the healthy brand built around cherries revolves around Montmorency cherries, the main variety that has undergone testing and has been shown to provide benefits. “You’ll see more promotions on Montmorency, which is what we grow from east to west. We are the largest producer of Montmorency products in the world. And all the research benefits have been done on Montomorency cherries,” Korson said. Also, American cherry growers have led the way in creating machines to efficiently remove pits from cherries. “Pit removal is very important, and we’re the best in the world at removing pits,” Korson said. And the high-powered cherry marketing campaign was racheted down, both to save money and to avoid overheating a market that lacked enough product to satisfy demand. Funds not spent will be used to ramp up the positive story of cherries just as the 2013 crop is being marketed.

Section 3, Page 3

Cherry Drop Following are some numbers that help explain the extent of the cherry crop loss in Michigan last year — and the dominance of the state in tart cherry production. Tart Cherries, Michigan Acreage

Lbs./acre

Million Lbs.

2010 2011 2012

26,200 26,700 27,300

5,150 5,900 425

135.0 157.5 11.6

2010 2011 2012

Tart Cherries, USA 35,650 5,340 190.4 36,000 6,440 231.7 36,500 2,330 85.1

Sweet Cherries, Michigan Acreage

2010 2011 2012 2010 2011 2012

6,700 6,500 6,500

Tons/acre

2.25 2.86 .65

Total Tons

15,100 18,600 4,250

Sweet Cherries, USA 85,030 3.68 313,220 85,820 3.90 334,415 86,790 4.89 424,000

So, let’s review. The American cherry industry lacks fruit, has seen consumption fall off, and has lost market share to foreign countries. Cherry growers throughout Michigan had no 2012 crop to sell, and are surviving only through government loans or by drawing down their savings accounts. You’d think presentations made at the 2013 Northwest Michigan Orchard and Vineyard Show and the growers who viewed them would share a pessimistic view of the future. Hardly. Instead, the impression left at the show was one of an industry still poised to receive its best days, albeit somewhat later than anticipated. Neither Thornton nor Bingham Township cherry grower Steve Grant knew of any grower who had been forced to sell and get out of the business. “We have good spirits,” said Grant. “It’s going to be a good year. But what do I know? I just grow cherries.”

Experts discuss ways to combat frost, preserve crops By Alan Campbell Of The Enterprise staff

Veteran cherry growers who sat on a panel convened to discuss the impact of weather issues on their business offered a variety of suggestions for fellow growers. Panelists readily admitted that nothing will provide foolproof protection from the types of weather phenomena that brought 80 degree temperatures to Leelanau County in March 2012, causing buds to swell just in time for seasonal frosts. Their crops were destroyed. “I expect the type of weather events we’ve seen are going to continue or increase,” said Don Gregory of Cherry Bay Orchards in Leelanau Township. “The biggest thing we can do with our operation is to try to find ways to store additional cherries for this because I think they’re going to continue to occur in the future.” Panelists spoke during the Northwest Michigan Orchard and Vineyard Show held last month at the Grand Traverse Resort, where one entire session was devoted to “frost protection methods in Michigan.” Michigan State University Extension agent Amy Irish-Brown outlined a variety of techniques including setting bon fires in orchards, running huge fans that cost between $16,000 to $35,000, and even flying helicopters to move cold air out of low-lying sites. Helicopters can cost up to $1,600 to rent per hour and flunk out on the

“quiet factor” — but can be “fun if you fly one,” a flyer stated. But even helicopters would not have helped during major crop losses in 2002 and 2012, as windy conditions moved a series of air mass with freezing temperatures across the Leelanau Peninsula. Most frost strategies rely on an inversion of temperatures, and seek to draw warmer air along hillsides into lower lying areas. But even heat from bon fires quickly dissipates with high winds. “A lot of these things really wouldn’t help us with 2012,” Gregory said. Orchardists on the panel turned their attention to matters more within their control. Gregory recalled the advice provided by former State Sen. George McManus, who served as an Extension Agent for Grand Traverse County before forging into politics. “The one thing I remember from him is you always have to keep in mind the two-thirds, onethird rule. Two-thirds in tarts, one-third in other crops,” Gregory said. Panelists, including Gregory, also offered some light-hearted suggestions. “If we would have been smart, we would have taken about one-third of our tart production and put it out in Utah.” Added Travis Bratschi of Bratschi Orchards in Williamsburg, “For me, the biggest thing I do for diversity is to have a non-farm job.”

A PANEL of growers discuss ways to mitigate major weather obstacles that wiped out two harvests over a 10-year period.

Jim Bardenhagen, also a retired Extension Agent, has spent much energy in recent years diversifying his farm operation in Suttons Bay Township. “In the 90’s, we became concerned about the price paid for tart cherries, and looked to diversify to add sustainability to our operation,” he said. Now the Bardenhagen farm has moved into the wholesale food market, selling directly to restaurants. It’s also expanded into high-end apples such as honey crisp, and converted some of its best growing sites into dark sweet cherries for the local fresh market — and more recently has moved some orchard blocks into the organic market. The Bardenhagens also sell table grapes, gourmet small potatoes and currants, which are popu-

lar at local farm markets and help them take advantage of the county’s large tourist influx. “We needed to get something people would pay a little more money for,” Bardenhagen said. Some expenses can be brought down, such as the interest rate paid on loans. “How many of you shop for money?” asked Ken Engle of Engle Ridge Farm in Williamsburg. He also reminded growers that to be successful, they need to think beyond the cherries they grow. They need to run their farms as businesses. “I love to drive a tractor. In fact, I need to drive a tractor at times so I can think about things. But at the end of the day my job, because it’s my money and my business, is to make sure I can be in business next year,” Engle said.

is coming February 28th Featuring stories and photographs recalling Leelanau County’s colorful past. Whether your business is old or new, your participation is invited! st email : deb@ leelana com unews.co aunews. n a l m • joy@leelana e e l @ t s i unews.com • adass

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Page 4, Section 3

THE LEELANAU ENTERPRISE

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Survivalist instincts, insurance help growers By Amy Hubbell Of The Enterprise staff

Cherry farmers share a common trait. They know how to roll with the punches even if the punch landed is a knockout. Unseasonably warm temperatures last spring hastened premature fruit development as far as five weeks ahead of time. All growers could do was stand by and wait for their fruit to freeze. And that it did. For the second time in 10 years, there was little or no fruit to harvest on the Leelanau Peninsula. We spoke with three cherry farmers about their experience last summer and how they are fighting back. ••• Elmer Hohnke had a lot of free time on his hands last summer. The family fruit operation, Hohnke & Sons, started 63 years ago by his father, Ben, includes 110 acres of tart cherries and 25 acres of sweets in Centerville Township. “We didn’t shake any cherries last year. We didn’t even pull the shaker out of the barn,” said Elmer, adding that a typical harvest is 800,000 to 900,000 pounds of Montmorency cherries. “We’ve grown over a million pounds a couple three years, but that was when our trees weren’t quite so geriatric.” Even through there was no fruit to harvest, farmers like Hohnke still have to maintain their trees and acreage. He sprayed fungicide and copper to ward off cherry leaf spot, which also weakens the plant and can lead to tree mortality. But not to the extent that he would had there been a crop. “I would have had to be far more vigilant and it would have been more expensive,” he said. “But I put as much time in spraying than I would have in a normal year. Heck, we started about Groundhog’s Day.” To date, there is no crop insurance available for red tart cherries. However, he was able to recoup some of his farm expenses through the Department of Agriculture’s Non-insured Crop Disaster Insurance Program (NAP). “You really have to be hit hard before it kicks in ... more than half a crop, or it doesn’t apply at all,” he said. The $250 paid for NAP was well worth it as he was able to recover the cost of the chemicals sprayed on his orchards. Anticipating little or no income, Hohnke postponed any big purchases. His usual shaking crew of six to eight locals, which includes his son Ethan and longtime employee Hector Salazar, had to find other work last summer. Salazar was born in Texas and began coming to the Hohnke Farm more than 20 years ago. Although his parents and siblings returned to Texas, Salazar opted to make northern Michigan his home, working full or part-time for the Hohnkes since. The farm uses no migrant labor in the cherry harvest. “Ethan had to find another job. Hector went and helped out someone who had cherries,” he said. “The rest had to find other jobs off the farm.” ••• Neither was there much fruit to harvest on the 700 acres of cherries owned by the LaCross family of Cedar. They brought in just 4 percent of a typical crop. “We had a few pockets where there was some fruit. We shook, but it was more of an exercise than an act of production this year,” Ben LaCross said.

Cherry farmers may need years to recover from 2012 Scientific research has shown that eating cherries can lead to a long, healthy life. After the past decade, cherry farmers may need a few extra years of working to add “prosperous” to the list of cherry benefits, according to figures compiled by a Michigan State University professor. Dr. Roy Black, food and resource economic specialist, assembled some figures to explain the plight growers in Leelanau County found themselves in this year. They had no crop to pick after seasonal frosts killed off cherry buds in April — and no income. In his example of an 80-acre farm, gross income in 2011 was $550,000, with expenditures including family labor and taxes reaching $445,000. That left a net farm income of $105,000 for the family. Move forward a year, when gross income was zero yet expenses still totalled $220,000. “How many years forward will it take to get this farm income back to scratch?” he asked. The simple math would indicate two years, but the financial hole is far deeper in most cases. Farm families often have mortgages to contend with — meaning that the farm operation may start its next fiscal year having fallen $40,000 to $50,000 behind in principle and interest payments on land and Three-quarters of the cherry acreage owned by LaCross and his father, Glenn, are of the red tart variety — the remainder is in sweets. Growers are expected to receive some payout from insurance purchased for their sweet cherry crop. To collect, the insurance must be purchased the prior fall, in this case November 2011. “Depending on the level of insurance purchased, growers can be eligible for up to 75 percent of their average (sweet cherry) yield,” LaCross said. The insurance check will help cover maintenance costs, such as spray materials which must still be applied even in the absence of fruit. When he started spraying trees three months ahead of schedule last spring, LaCross knew a huge freeze was likely and contacted the migrant family which has been coming north for years to work in the harvest. “We didn’t open two-thirds of our migrant housing,” he said. “Some of the workers came, but the others stayed in Georgia and hopefully found other work.” The LaCrosses and others who rely on migrant labor to harvest and process the crops are concerned that migrants, unsure of a reliable yield, may opt to forgo the trip north and seek out more “fruitful” opportunities. The need for a more stable supply is also key to continued marketing for America’s new “superfruit”. “The trepidation I have as a grower is that it took eight to 10 years to get our national sales levels back to where they were in 2002,” LaCross said. “How long will it take to recapture that market?” •••

equipment. “It will take three or four years of digging out for those (farms) that are profitable, and it will take 10 years for some to recover,” Black said. Recall that catastrophic crop loses were also sustained by Leelanau County growers in 2002 — 10 years prior to last year’s disaster. “If you are in one of those groups thatt takes 10 years to recover, this is not a very good sign,” he said. Perhaps Bob and Don Gregory of Cherry Bay Orchards offer the best description off the hole cherry farmers in Leelanau County find themselves in. Bob recalls that Don was being interviewed by a television reporter following the 2012 harvest. He was asked how many pounds of cherries had been harvested by Cherry Bay. The answer was 300,000 pounds, which at the historically high price of $1 per pound on the open market grossedd $300,000. The reporter appeared impressed. “Then he said it takes us $3 million to grow a crop of cherries, so we’re only $2.7 million in the hole. The industry needs a crop (in 2013), and the consumers need the cherries,” Bob Gregory said. -By Alan Campbelll On the other side of the county, Bingham am Township grower Jim Nugent, had about 30 percent of a sweet crop, but his tarts were ere virtually non-existent with a yield of just 11 tanks. “We’d hook up to the tree to shake what h hat would normally be left after we shook,” said a aid Nugent, the retired director of the Northwest e est Michigan Horticultural Research Center in Bingham Township. “It was abysmal.” Like the LaCrosses, Nugent took advanantage of crop insurance for sweets availablee to growers in Leelanau and Grand Traverse rse counties through the U.S.D.A. He expects to learn what his reimbursement will be this his month when the market price for the sweets ets is set. In 2002, Nugent was still working full time me at the hort center, which gave him perspecective on the crop. “We had zero cherries that year. There ere wasn’t enough for a pie once the birds got them,” he said. The 2012 and 2002 crops were similar in that sweet varieties fared better than tarts. rts. However, the two years differed in terms of the crop’s impact on fruit prices. “We had a big crop in 2001 and had more ore cherries and ended up getting more revenue nue as a result,” Nugent said. “2011 crop was more typical, so there’s not as much carry rry over in income.” Regardless of the hardship of the past year, ear, all three men remain dedicated to their way of life. Nugent summed it up like this: “You’ve ’ve got to be hopeful we’ll have a better year than last. You never know what Mother Nature will throw at you.”

A TRIO of Leelanau County farmers, from top to bottom, Elmer Hohnke, Ben LaCross and Jim Nugent, talked about surviving last year’s bad cherry crop.

Tart cherry harvest has nowhere to go but up after last year’s disaster By Eric Carlson Of The Enterprise staff

As almost everyone has heard by now, the 2012 tart cherry harvest in northwestern Lower Michigan including Leelanau County and the entire state of Michigan was the lowest on record, surpassing the “crop failure of the century” seen here in 2002. Nonetheless, the harvest in northwest Lower Michigan was higher last year than experts were predicting in June 2012 when it became apparent that fluky weather promised to result in a dismal harvest. In June 2012, the national Cherry Industry Administrative Board (CIAB) predicted that only 2 million pounds of red tart cherries would be harvested in northwestern Lower Michigan that season. By the fall, however, it was clear that about 20 percent more cherries were harvested than predicted — 2.48 million pounds.

But the 2012 total was still just 2 percent of the three-year average harvest of red tart cherries in northwest lower Michigan of 114.4 million pounds. Normally, Michigan and northwest Lower Michigan in particular produce the greatest share of the nation’s total red tart cherry crop in any given year. In 2012, however, that distinction went to the state of Utah where 39.92 million pounds of red tart cherries were produced. Washington State, as usual, came in second with 24.80 pounds of red tart cherries. That was more than twice as many cherries produced in the entire state of Michigan in 2012, some 11.48 million pounds. The total for Michigan in 2012 was even lower than the previous record low of 15 million pounds in the “disastrous” year of 2002. In the entire U.S. in 2002, only 62.5 million pounds were harvested. In 2012, however, the picture was not as bad

nationally, with some 84.6 million pounds harvested throughout the U.S. in 2012. Last year would have been bad enough if local farmers had only to worry about cherries. The thing that made 2012 so bad was that other crops suffered as well, according to veteran orchardist Jim Bardenhagen of Suttons Bay. The former Michigan State University Extension agricultural agent for Leelanau County, Bardenhagen said that 2012 was especially rough on Leelanau County fruit farmers because other crops such as sweet cherries and apples suffered as well. “Back in 2002 we still ended up with some sweet cherries and apples to sell,” Bardenhagen said. “But a lot of people just ended up with nothing — and 2012 was definitely a worse blow than 2002.” In addition to fluky weather that prompted cherry trees to start blooming early only to be

frozen to death in a cold snap — followed by a drought — the timing of wet weather also made cherry trees succumb faster to a cherry leaf spot fungus that strikes when buds are damp. The truly disastrous year of 2012 may cause more farmers to consider other lines of work this year. The number of farms dealing in tart cherries, and the amount of acreage devoted to tarts decreased in Leelanau County over the past few years. In 2006, there were 124 farms growing tart cherries in Leelanau County. By 2011 that number was down to 107 farms. Similarly, the amount of acreage devoted to red tart cherries in 2006 was 8,150. By 2011, the amount of acreage dropped to 7,800 in Leelanau County. “The farmers’ philosophy is that next year will always be better than last year,” Bardenhagen said. “The fact is that compared to last year, the only way to go is up.”


Thursday, February 7, 2013

THE LEELANAU ENTERPRISE

Section 3, Page 5

Bigger deer plan rubs cherry growers the wrong way By Alan Campbell Of The Enterprise staff

Just as the concept of “quality deer management” (QDM) that has been popular in Leelanau County appears on the verge of being extended to 12 more counties, fruit growers have emerged to provide opposition. Many spoke in unflattering terms about growing older bucks with bigger antlers — and about deer in general — at a grower panel organized by Leelanau County fruit grower Ben LaCross at the Northwest Michigan Orchard & Vineyard Show held Jan. 21-22 at Grand Traverse Resort. LaCross, who brought clout to the discussion as District 9 Director of the Michigan Farm Bureau representing seven counties, said the state Department of Natural Resources and Natural Resources Commission have not taken into consideration the plight of orchardists in allowing QDM rules near agricultural concerns. LaCross told growers that the bigger bucks rub their antlers on fruit trees, damaging and in some cases killing them. The problem has become epidemic in Leelanau County, where QDM has created a number of larger bucks that rub antlers to show their dominance over smaller bucks. “We try everything in our orchards to keep the deer out, but this is a new challenge that it seems has become a bigger problem through the years,” LaCross said. Under QDM rules in place in Leelanau County since 2002, only bucks with at least three points on one antler may be harvested by hunters. The goal of the program is to establish a buck-to-doe ratio closer to the one-to-one ratio found in nature — as well as to grow a buck population that is not dominated by yearlings. The LaCross family grows cherries, plums and apples, and owns the Leelanau Fruit Company in

Perfume used to help save trees Orchard growers have dealt with problem deer for many generations. While no technique has proven foolproof, many can cause heads to turn. For years, human hair provided by barbers has been bagged and tied to cherry trees in hopes of fooling deer into believing humans are nearby. One grower at a meeting on the topic held as part of the Northwest Michigan Orchard & Vineyard Show offered a newer ingredient: dryer sheets. Another suggested “dollar store perfume.” “I haven’t heard of dollar store perfume, but at this point we’re willing to do just about anything to keep the deer out of our orchards,” said Isaiah Wunsch, a cherry farmer on Old Mission Peninsula. Buck rubs can devastate young orchards. One grower said he wrapped mouge guard around young trees starting at about 18 inches off the ground. “They start a little bit (rubbing their antlers), but then they get frustrated,” he said.

Suttons Bay, which processes fruit. Most of the family’s fruit acreage is located in Centerville Township. Ben LaCross also serves as vice president of the Leelanau Horticultural Society, which has taken on a roll of collecting information to determine a dollar figure for damage caused to orchards by tree-rubbing bucks. Growers could seek reimbursement for deer damage to tree trunks. Isaiah Wunsch, a grower on Old Mission Peninsula, suggested that the “recreational use and orchard use are not compatible uses for our land resources ... we have a deer management strategy that is not taking into account the economic damage we are suffering as far as farmers.” Wunsch was a member of the panel, which headed a discussion that attracted dozens of growers from across the region. “Do you sue the DNR, or do we have to get to our legislators so they prohibit legislation that starts this program?” asked one grower from the audience. The DNR, which was asked to send a representative, came under fire by panelists and growers after no one represented the state agency. However, poor driving conditions led to an accident involving the DNR spokesperson who was scheduled to attend, it was learned the following day. While the panel was to speak specifically under the topic of quality deer management, the discussion did not stay on damage caused by deer rubs. Instead, the topic of deer damage in general brought out discontent shared by many growers. For instance, growers discussed a need to eliminate the $15 fee charged to farmers for crop permits, which allow hunters to shoot more does on private land by bypassing the antlerless permit system. The permits may not be used on antlered deer. Grower Greg Shook, the third member of the panel, spoke of how a summer-long drought caused deer to move away from typical browse for that time of year and into soybean fields — which were decimated. And LaCross spoke of the high occurrence of deer-automobile accidents, which are a product of deer numbers rather than the percentage of mature bucks within the deer population. But the voices were united in their calling out for help from the state in offsetting deer damage. Help could come in many forms, ranging from reimbursement for the loss of fruit trees to payment for the cost of erecting fences to keep deer out of orchards. One grower had a suggestion: make the deer fences ugly to draw attention to problems created by an out-of-control deer population. Despite the apparent unanimous voice toward controlling deer damage, opposition against the topic before the panel — quality deer management — had dissenters. One such person sat on the panel. In fact, Shook said his family joined with neighboring land holders to form a pact to only shoot bucks with at least four points on one antler. “We’re hunters, too,” he explained. But the effort fell short because of non-compliance. “The people who implement the rules are the only ones who follow it. Quite often if you let a 6-point go, five minutes later you hear a ‘bang,’” he said. Another grower was heard saying while leaving the meeting, “I really didn’t want to say anything

THIS IS one of seven cherry trees injured by what appeared to be the same mature buck working in the old “Ance” farm in Suttons Bay Township that is now owned by Cherry Bay Orchards. “It appeared the buck walked diagonally across the orchard doing his thing,” Cherry Bay owner Don Gregory said. about this deer proposal, or I’d get strung up.” QDM was implemented in Leelanau County following separate surveys made of landowners and hunters in 2002. A 66 percent level of support from both groups was needed for passage. While 66 percent of landowners concurred, only 63 percent of hunters were in support. But the Michigan Natural Resources Commission went ahead with a five-year trial for the county after learning that support among hunters fell within the margin of error of the survey. Second surveys conducted in 2007 showed the program had gained popularity, with 72 percent of both groups in support. More recently, a group of hunters working through the NW Michigan Quality Deer Management Association pushed to extend antler restrictions across northwest Michigan. In the meantime, the NRC changed the criteria to include only one survey, but continued to require at least 66 percent support. The survey showed 69 percent support for QDM.

The NRC plans to decide the issue in time for the 2013 deer hunting season. Some growers, however, hope to head off the movement. “We feel it’s time for growers to have a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion,” LaCross said. He also hopes to host a “few key NRC members” at a Leelanau County orchard to show deer rub damage. Cherry Bay Orchards owner Don Gregory, who did not sit on the panel, believes some type of compromise might be possible. “I think we can find a solution for this,” he said. But he stressed that the problem is real, saying that most trees injured by buck rubs are just entering their productive years. With each tree expected to produce 100 pounds or so of cherries annually, the loss over 20 years could total 2,000 pounds — or $700 in revenue at 35 cents per pound of tarts. “It’s been the last two years that it’s hit us in this part of the county,” Gregory said.

Tart cherry insurance moving fast through bureaucratic red tape By Alan Campbell Of The Enterprise staff

Creation of a federal crop insurance program for tart cherry growers appears to be on a fast track, and coverage could be available in time for the 2014 growing season. That was the news Michigan State University professor Roy Black, Ph.D., told growers at the Northwest Michigan Orchard and Vineyard Show held at the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme. In fact, Black said he has been surprised by the speed with which the tart cherry crop insurance is running through bureaucratic hurdles. “It’s on the fastest track I’ve ever seen, and other folks have said that. The target date is to have something out by 2014,” Black said. If that schedule holds, tart cherry growers could start signing up for a federally sponsored policy this fall. Only limited policies that primarily cover single event losses, such as for hail or fire, are available from the private sector, Black said. Federal crop insurance is administered by an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but sold by insurance agents in the private sector. It’s essentially a public system run through the private market, Black said. Cherry industry advocates have for years been puching a crop insurance program similar to those offered corn, soybean and even apples through Congress, with limited success. They did succeed in 1999 in establishing a “pilot” insurance program for sweet cherries in Washington state, which was extended to Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties

Bardenhagen named to crop board If the nature of political appointments can be connected to public policy, the odds for establishment of a federal tart cherry insurance program have greatly increased. Cong. Dr. Dan Benishek (R-Iron River) has been named to the Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management. And fruit grower Jim Bardenhagen has been named to the Federal Crop Insurance Board by Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, advocated for Bardenhagen’s appointment. A press release from Stabenow’s office stated that in 2000. Sweet cherries make up about 40 percent of cherry orchards in Leelanau County; sours make up the balance. Other federal programs identified through a multitude of acronyms are helping tart cherry growers through the disastrous crop failure of 2012. The most popular — and relevant — is NAP, which provides “non-insurance disaster” compensation. It’s cheap at $750 for a particular crop, and compensates growers for crop losses beyond 50 percent of their historic yields at one-half of the market’s historic prices. The program is helpful for divergent farms that grow several crops. While the cost to enroll tart cherries would be $750, additional crops such as

Bardenhagen’s appointment “comes at a critical time for northern Michigan, as the board considers extending crop insurance to cherry growers and farmers of other crops that don’t currently have access to crop insurance protection.” Bardenhagen, of Bardenhagen Farms located off Pertner Road in Suttons Bay Township, is a retired Michigan State University Extension Director for Leelanau County. He grows cherries, apples, grapes, potatoes, hay and small grain. Benishek’s new subcommittee has jurisdiction over crop insurance and specialty crops. asparagus and potatoes can be added for $250 each. However, the program is of limited help to large operations because it comes with a maximum payout of $100,000. The sweet cherry crop insurance program, has no upper limit. Growers can elect to have coverage kick in at 75 percent or 50 percent of revenues from a “normal” year. Their premium is based on the average income produced by a sweet cherry orchard, and charged on a “per acre” basis. For instance, Leelanau County grower Jim Bardenhagen said in an article that appeared previously in the Enterprise that his cost was $138 per acre for one sweet cherry orchard, with coverage kicking in at 50 percent of normal revenue. The premium would

be higher for 75 percent coverage. The sweet cherry program has been only somewhat popular, though, with a participation level of about 50 percent. U.S. Department of Agriculture officials would prefer more participation, and may have questioned whether a tart cherry program would be successful based on the program for sweets, Black said. Black points to two reasons why the latest push for tart cherry insurance appears to have legs: The political clout of U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, and the advantage of having a framework established through the sweet cherry program. “I’m a little bit amazed they got it on the table, which I think is a credit to Stabenow, and I’m absolutely amazed that they’ve got this on such a fast track,” he said. Black put together estimates indicating what such a program might cost tart cherry growers in northwest Michigan. He provided a graph showing that coverage to guarantee 55 percent of a farm’s “normal” revenue would cost about $56 per acre; the price would increase to $92 at 75 percent coverage. The insurance premiums would vary depending upon a particular farm’s production level. The best tart cherry sites, of course, would cost more to insure — and would receive more compensation for crop failures. Or growers can continue to rely on Mother Nature, which last summer left local growers without a crop to pick. “You can say that I can take my chances, or you may want to look at buying insurance,” Black told growers.


Page 6, Section 3

THE LEELANAU ENTERPRISE

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fungus appears to be at root of fruit tree woes, future plantings By Eric Carlson Of The Enterprise staff

Although climate change and fluky weather have presented serious problems for Leelanau County’s cherry industry in recent years, another threat that has been apparent for decades could wipe out the industry entirely, according to researchers. A soil-borne fungus that causes root rot disease in cherry trees and other fruit trees is damaging and killing trees in Leelanau County and could prevent farmers from planting new trees in orchards infected with the fungus. Unofficially, it’s the “humongous fungus� known officially as Armillaria, according to Dr. Nikki Rothwell, director of the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station in Bingham Township. Scientists have been working for decades to see what might be done about the problem, but progress has been slow. Rothwell’s colleague, Michigan State University researcher Dr. Amy Iezzoni, has been working for many years to counter the threat of Armillaria, also known as “honey fungus� because of its coloration. There is no known means to eradicate the fungus, but Iezzoni and others have been working most recently to develop a new variety of cherry root stock that might be resistant to the fungus. Armillaria is known to exist in wide swaths of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and occurs most commonly in sandy soils where “stone fruits� such as cherries and peaches have been grown for several generations. That, of course, describes Leelanau County to a tee. “In Michigan, Armillaria root rot is common in Montmorency tart cherry orchards,� according to academic papers published on the subject. “Affected trees may exhibit poor growth for one or two years and then

die suddenly in mid to late summer. The disease spreads out from a central area of one or two initially infected trees. Clusters of honey-colored mushrooms may arise at the bases of dead trees in late August or September,� according to MSU researchers. “This is a really, really big deal,� Rothwell said. “It’s definitely a threat to the cherry industry as well to other as other stone fruits grown in our region.� Scientists have been aware of the presence of the fungus in Leelanau County for decades, and in the early 1990’s actually planted some of it in a small orchard containing different varieties of trees just to see which variety might be most resistant. A test plot to study Armillaria is located at the Ruby Ellen Dobson farm in Bingham Township adjacent to MSU’s Hort Station. Iezzoni — who was named Cherry Industry Person of the Year in 2010 for her work on the Armillaria problem as well as other research on cherry trees — said some progress has been made in identifying cherry tree varieties that may be bred to resist the fungus and still produce good fruit. She said her colleague Dr. Ray Hammerschmidt of Michigan State University has “identified a source of Armillaria resistance thanks to the planting on the Dobson farm.� In 2001, Hammerschmidt and his own group of researchers planted 21 different cherry tree rootstocks of sweet and tart cherries on the Dobson farm to see if any of them did particularly well when infected by Armillaria. Some did better than others. Since then, Iezzoni has combined selected rootstocks with Montmorency’s to see if she can come up with a new, commercially viable variety that is resistant to Armillaria. So far, the results have been mixed.

“HONEY FUNGUS� is a common name for Armillaria, which infects certain trees and their roots, including cherry trees now threatened by the infection in Leelanau County. Researchers are identifying ways to make trees more resistant to the fungus. In a research plot down in Clarkston, Mich., newly planted Armillariaresistant tart cherry trees are only now beginning to produce fruit — but the cherries are small and are not meeting commercial standards. More research will be required, Iezzoni said. But funding for research to find a solution to the problem is running out. In 2009, MSU researchers and their scientific collaborators around United States and beyond were awarded the largest grant ever in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Specialty Crop Research Initiative,� totaling $14.4 million. The four-year project involves far more than a solution to Armillaria fungus infections in cherry orchards, focusing more broadly on genetic improvements to the Rosaceae botanical family which also includes peaches, apples and strawberries. “The Armillaria problem has been on the mind of researchers for a long time,� Rothwell said. “But we don’t have a solution yet — and that’s a very real threat to the whole industry.�

AMY IEZZONI, Ph.D., is a Michigan State University professor who has been leading a research effort to find ways to eradicate diseases affecting Leelanau County cherry orchards. In 2010 she was named Cherry Industry Person of the Year.

CHERRY LEAF spot is a disease for which researchers have found a specific gene in cherry trees — a gene that could be used to control resistance to the disease.

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Research may help control leaf spot By Eric Carlson Of The Enterprise staff

Although last year’s weather obviously hurt Leelanau County’s cherry crop badly, a cherry tree disease that reached epidemic proportions last year was also a major factor in the dismal harvest. Cherry leaf spot, with the scientific name Blumeriella jaapil, was a particularly difficult problem last year because it infects young tart cherry leaves during rainy weather. The weather last year left cherry trees particularly vulnerable to cherry leaf spot. There are remedies to the disease, but they include spraying expensive chemicals on the trees — something farmers don’t like to do because it costs money. In addition, chemicals on their

fruit is something consumers don’t want either. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could not spray as much to control (cherry leaf spot) in trees?� Phil Korson, director of the national Cherry Marketing Institute asked rhetorically at last month’s Orchard and Vineyard Show in Grand Traverse County. Michigan State University researcher Dr. Amy Iezzoni, in collaboration with many other researchers around the world, has been working on a genetic solution to cherry leaf spot. Researchers have discovered the very gene in cherry tree chromosomes that control resistance to cherry leaf spot. If they can breed cherry trees that activate the gene, they will likely solve the problem of cherry leaf spot. “More chemicals are applied to con-

trol cherry leaf spot than any other tart cherry pest,� Iezzoni said. “Fortunately, the wild cherry species P. canescens is known to be resistant to cherry leaf spot,� she added. Research is currently underway to test leaf spot resistance in commercial cherry trees cross-bred with the disease-resistant wild cherries — and a solution may be on the way. In the meantime, spraying fungicides on cherry trees may be the only solution to the problem. In 2012, researchers reported a “major cherry leaf spot epidemic� in northwest lower Michigan. A repeat of last year’s weather could result in another epidemic of cherry leaf spot in 2013, according to researchers.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

THE LEELANAU ENTERPRISE

Section 3, Page 7

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Page 8, Section 3

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CHERRY C Eighty degrees is good for spring break, but not if you’re a cherry grower and you haven’t left Leelanau County. And so it was that the 2012 cherry crop — the one that was coming as stock was low and demand was growing — never came to be. Those in the cherry industry hung their heads for maybe a couple weeks or so while spring’s frosts gave way to summer’s warmth. Grieving ended quickly. Trees, bearing only leaves, needed to be sprayed.

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Leelanau County is one of the largest tart cherry processing counties in the state. Northwest Michigan produces almost half of the U.S. supply of tart cherries year after year. Over the past fi ve years the cherry industry has been working hard to re-create the image of tart cherries as today’s hottest new Superfruit. After years of investing in health benefit research, today it’s clear that cherries have powerful antiinflammatory properties that are all natural and good for you.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

THE LEELANAU ENTERPRISE

Section 3, Page 9

COMEBACK Great expectations moved to great consternation as shakers saw little light. Temporary fixes patched together family budgets for another year. While the cherry crop was lost, cherry trees are healthy and stand ready to deliver a new crop this summer. Hopefully a bumper crop — something the industry has not sought in many, many years. The stars have moved little in the last year, and remain aligned in favor of the cherry industry. Cherries, in our humble opinion, are the healthiest fruit among a bushel full that seek the title.

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Page 10, Section 3

THE LEELANAU ENTERPRISE

Alpers Tree Sales

Thursday, February 7, 2013

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

THE LEELANAU ENTERPRISE

Section 3, Page 11

Stanton makes sure Centerville fruit land forever protected By Mike Spencer Of The Enterprise staff

The future is now for Terry Stanton. The 77-year-old longtime supporter of farmland preservation efforts has ensured the family farm, started by his dad Earl in Centerville Township in 1960, will always be available for growing fruit. Stanton and his family put 172.5 acres of Stanton Orchards into a conservation easement with the Leelanau Conservancy. “Out here we raise the biggest percentage of tart cherries to any comparable area in the country,” said Stanton, a retired advertising exec and big-time cherry promoter. “And farmland preservation is a top priority for everybody that lives up here because if this peninsula ever got discovered, the improvements would be out of sight.” Stanton said preserving the family farm, run by his son Greg since 1998, gives him a peace of mind. “It used to be that everybody wanted to stay on the farm, but those days are changing quickly,” Stanton said. “Now inheritees are not living here anyone. “To stay is a big commitment.” Stanton said the acres in the conservation easement are part of the old Overby Farm, which overlooks the shores of Lake Michigan with views of North and South Manitou Islands. “Everybody knows that you can’t expect someone to retain an agricultural interest on a peninsula overlooking Sugar Loaf Mountain just because it’s pretty,” Stanton said. “It’s gotta work. Last year where we had no crop.” Stanton said he’s working with the Ancient Tree Archive to replace trees destroyed by last year’s winter storm. “They can clone millions of these trees,” he said. Stanton, whose great-grandparents homesteaded up here, has been coming up to Leelanau County his entire life. He has worked in a cherry orchard since he was 4. “It’s a long time doing all these different things,” said Stanton, who was born in Milwaukee, Wis., raised in Chicago but managed to get back to Leelanau County for the annual harvest. “I didn’t get to ride in any of these harvest vehicles were have today. “Back then we did it all by hand.” And there’s nothing like a hands-on approach to farming. “The biggest mistake some farms make is through mechanical pruning,” Stanton said. “They buy these big expensive machines and they prune it this way and they prune it on the top and their fruit is for nothing.” Stanton said his cousin, a longtime farmer, prunes every cherry tree himself all winter. “You have to get the right limbs so that you can get the best crop when you harvest it,” he said. Stanton said his cousin knows all his trees. “I can take my cousin out and blindfold him and drive him around for a few minutes and then get him out in front of a tree and he can tell me exactly where we are,” Stanton said. “It’s like every tree is his relative.” Stanton Orchards, with its Montmorency Tart Cherry Concentrate, and Stanton himself, with a new product called Cherry Russo, is pushing the health benefits of cherries. He has worked with the Cherry Marketing Institute, an organization funded by North American tart cherry growers and processors. He says millions of dollars of research has linked tart cherries to antiinflammatory benefits. Recent studies even suggest tart cherries can help reduce post-exercise muscle and joint pain. Stanton began marketing Cherry Russo a year ago, but he ran out of cherries. “If this — the health benefit — gets more recognition, it’s going to solve this farmland preservation problem in a great big hurry,” Stanton said. Stanton said he expects the price of cherries to be up this year. “If we get a decent crop, it is going to be high regardless of health bene-

TERRY STANTON stands below a variety of different Stanton Orchards cherry boxes that he designed. fits,” he said. Stanton said his father, who was born in Northport and has since passed on, was in food advertising with Libby’s before becoming a Leelanau County farmer. He didn’t know much about farming initially, but he learned quickly. By the end of the 1970s, he had established orchards capable of yielding an amazing amount of both tart and sweet cherries. It is now one of the best cherry growing orchards in the lower peninsula of Michigan. “Dad was pretty smart, but one of the problems he had was trying to bring in new innovations,” Stanton said. Stanton said when the family first learned his dad was going to start a farm, they thought he was crazy. “He’s a she-cago guy, he don’t know nothin’,” Stanton said. Stanton, who took over the farm operations from his dad in 1979, recalls some of dad’s unorthodox farming ideas, starting with his tractor. He was the first family member to use the Oliver tractor over the preferred John Deere green. His dad got one after a Traverse City dealer said it was cheap-

er and better. “My uncles came over to the farm and chewed my dad’s butt out for buying an Oliver,” Stanton said. When family continued to give him a hard time, his dad arranged and won a tractor pull challenge in Suttons Bay and hundreds of people showed up, Stanton said. “The Oliver took that John Deere and dad was a mile down M-22 before he stopped,” Stanton said. “Everybody left and never said anything about it again for years.” Stanton said his father first bought some farmland near Omena, but didn’t realize it was lowlands — sloping the wrong way and subject to frost. So after scouring the county’s topographical maps looking for high places, he found the old Overby potato farm. “Mrs. Overby didn’t want to sell, but it turns out she didn’t want to leave,” Stanton recalled. So Stanton’s dad negotiated a deal to buy the land, but let her stay at the farmhouse for life. One of the first things his dad did was bulldoze and clear the forest out and then removed the topsoil and

THE STANTON family rests on an Oliver tractor during a harvest in the late-1990s. On the tractor, from left, are Todd, Greg, Karen and Donna Stanton. Standing are Terry Stanton, left, and son Curt. reshaped the orchard. He also took the sawdust from a nearby mill that was about to close because it had no place to dispose the wood dust. “My dad found another source for nitrogen,” Stanton said. “It’s become a

spectacular orchard. “And when the Conservancy came over and tested our soil, it was No. 1.”

Cherry handout at lunchtime goes over big in Chicago Terry Stanton struggled with ways to successfully promote the Northern Michigan cherry, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. One day back in the early 1980s, the owner of Stanton Orchards of Lake Leelanau, decided to give them away in downtown Chicago.

On Aug. 11, 1983, Stanton had thousands of small plastic bags of Leelanaugrown sweet cherries handed to people walking down Michigan Avenue in front of the Wrigley Building. Stanton was also part owner of Darby Graphics — a graphics communications firm serving the Chicago area

for more than 50 years. He combined his dual involvement with farming business and graphics in a “Thank You Chicago Day.” Distribution of the cherries were also made to customers of Darby Graphics. The freshly harvested fruit was trucked from Leelanau County to

Chicago via Darby Graphics delivery trucks. Stanton had to get a special permit for the sidewalk distribution. Approximately five thousand persons were served during a two-hour period.

TERRY STANTON decided in 1983 that one of the best ways to promote northern Michigan cherries was to give them away on the streets of downtown Chicago. More than 5,000 people tried the cherries, which came from Stanton Orchards.


Page 12, Section 3

THE LEELANAU ENTERPRISE

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ice cream at Glen Arbor store — a cherry delight It’s no secret that I love sweets in general and chips and chopped sweets, all swirled with caramel. It is also Myers favorite. ice cream in particular. “It’s got a lot going on and it all really works Ice cream is a great way to celebrate when the new season of Walking Dead has started, your well together,” he said. Henry prefers Hibernation Jump Start, the youngest child has left the nest, or you’ve had a good hair day. A generous dollop will also pick mix of cherry coffee ice cream with chunks of espresso that is also the secyou up when you’ve had a ond most popular flavor at bad day. If it’s hot out it’ll the café. cool you off. And right Other popular flavors are about now a frosty dish of Sticky Paws, a dark chocowhatever flavor floats your late ice cream with sweet boat is the perfect way to cherries, chocolate nut mix thumb your nose at below and a caramel ribbon; freezing temperatures. Cherry Waffle Chip, a cherIn my 10 months in ry ice cream with chocolate Leelanau County I’ve eaten and waffle chips; and Snow the creamy confection at in the Orchard, which is several area establishments, vanilla infused with flecks including Harbor House in of tart cherries. Leland, the Ice Cream In the fall some seasonal Factory in Suttons Bay, flavors are added to the Tiffany’s in Empire, and, of assortment, with a cherry course, Moomers a few A column pumpkin mix and cherry miles over the county line by Patti Brandt caramel apple-flavored ice on North Long Lake Road. cream. So when I was asked to And for those who are especially brave — write a column on the dozen or so flavors made at the Cherry Republic my first question was, and hungry — there is the Monster Sundae, created with ice cream, the famous Boomchunka “Do I get to do a taste test?” The fact that nearly all of the flavors have a cookies and toppings. The single has four scoops little cherry in them makes the assignment (and of ice cream and two cookies; the double has six I use that word loosely) pretty much a no-brain- scoops and three cookies. “Once you eat that you get your picture taken er for this ice cream lover. So I headed south to talk to Nancy Henry, director of retail operations and get on the Boomchunka Wall of Fame,” for the company, and Nash Myers, café manag- Henry said. New this year was the Sour Cherry Sorbet, a er. Cherry Republic sold 2,500 gallons of ice huge hit for people who prefer non-dairy, Myers cream — all in cones — over the past summer, said. Is ice cream healthy? Who cares? It’s got a one of the busiest on record. At about 22 scoops per gallon, and one to three scoops per cone, little calcium and a couple grams of protein in a that’s anywhere from 18,333 to 55,000 ice half cup serving. So when you eat it the way I do cream cones, or enough to put the staunchest (and probably a lot of readers), that’s a lot of sweet tooth in a sugar coma for the next decade. nutrition. And when it has cherries in it, like The cool goodness is all made on site in three- most of the concoctions at Cherry Republic, add gallon batches by baking manager Donna a dose of antioxidants to the mix. Ice cream production at Cherry Republic Owsley, of Empire, who oversees all the ice cream making, cookie baking and pie crust flak- stops for the winter, with the exception of Presidents Day weekend, which starts Feb. 15 ing that goes on in the Glen Arbor café. Owsley spends two or three days per week and runs through President’s Day, Feb. 18. The making ice cream, with the Glen Arbor cafe store also has a tradition of serving up free ice being the only place in the world you can get it. cream on the Sunday after Mother’s Day, May It’s not sold on the market or made at Cherry 19. Though all the flavors at the Cherry Republic Republic’s other locations in Traverse City, — and all around Leelanau County — are deliCharlevoix or Ann Arbor. The café has about 12 to 14 flavors available cious, my personal favorite is still plain ol’ on any given day. The eight most popular flavors vanilla drizzled with caramel and, of course, a are always on hand and the rest are fun flavors cherry on top. But I’m staying open minded. And looking that are rotated. The most popular is Rain Orchard Crunch, an Amaretto-flavored ice forward to a summer of visiting all of the ice cream with honey, cashews, chocolate, waffle cream shops I missed last year.

NASH MYERS, café manager at the Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor, shows off the Monster Sundae he concocted. The sundae, made of ice cream and Boomchunka cookies, is a favorite at the café.

Cherry recipes

Decadent desserts with a cherry twist

Here are three recipes from the Heavenly Favorites cookbook published by Holy Rosary Church. Enjoy!

Layered Cherry Dessert 1/2 c. butter or margarine 1 c. flour 1/2 c. chopped walnuts 1/4 c. finely chopped walnuts for topping 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese 1 c. powdered sugar 3 c. Cool Whip 2 cans cherry pie filling (or made from scratch using tart cherries)

By Patti Brandt Of The Enterprise staff

There’s no doubt that cherries are good for you in lots of ways. Whether plucked off the tree, nestled on a mound of whipped cream, or freshly baked into a warm pie, it’s just a plus that they also taste so darn good. But sometimes we just need to push aside the broccoli, the carrots and the healthy cherry juice concentrate and treat our souls to a gooey, decadent, sugar-encrusted slice of heaven. Like the Layered Cherry Dessert recipe that appears in the Heavenly Favorites cookbook published by Holy Rosary Church. The recipe was submitted by Judy LaCross, who with her husband Glenn, is a cherry grower and owner of the Leelanau Fruit Company. “I’m very partial to cherries and anything cherry,” LaCross said. LaCross said she doesn’t need a holiday or even a special day to make the family favorite, (Concluded on Page 13)

Mix butter, flour and 1/2 cup walnuts well. Pat into 9” x 13” pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool. Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until creamy. Fold in 1 cup Cool Whip. Spread over cooled crust. Spread cherries over that layer, then top with the rest of the Cool Whip and 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts. Refrigerate for several hours. Serves 8 to 10. Recipe by Judy LaCross in memory of Michaeline Novak, published in the Heavenly Favorites Shining Forth Cookbook - 2012, by Holy Rosary Parish.

THIS LAYERED cherry dessert, made with cream cheese, Cool Whip and cherries, is as delicious as it looks. The recipe is from the Heavenly Favorites cookbook published by Holy Rosary Parish.

(Concluded on Page 13)


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dr. Nikki Rothwell District Horticulturalist and NWMHRC Coordinator

Research indicates little red superfruit making healthy strides It has long been known that the tart cherry makes a mean pie and an even better crumble, but the delicious drupe is also known to have powers that go far beyond the taste bud. Researchers around the world are working to unlock the secret of harnessing those powers. From reducing belly fat to helping people off to the Land of Nod, several studies funded by the Lansingbased Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI) are underway that aim to define just why the little red superfruit is so good for you. One study at the University of Michigan is taking a look at people with metabolic syndrome to determine whether the tart Montmorency cherry can reduce belly fat and play a role in preventing diabetes. While there are several risk factors for metabolic syndrome — which can lead to coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes — the most important factor is extra weight around the middle and upper parts of the body, or belly fat. “The idea is, can cherries impact metabolic syndrome?” said Phil Korson, president of CMI. The initial research is done, but not yet published, said Korson, who has been with CMI since it was founded 24 years ago. The Institute does not actually create tart cherry-based products; its mission is to enhance the growing industry by helping to create a market for cherries. All of the research is being done on the Montmorency cherry, the most commonly grown cherry in the United States. “It’s really about cherries and why they’re good for you,” Korson said. “We represent all of the U.S. products that are grown and produced in this country and are available at retail.” Another study at Louisiana State

University is looking at how cherry juice helps to promote sleep. Researchers already knew the tart cherry contains melatonin — a known sleep enhancer — but the study is looking at what else the cherry may have that helps people sleep. “There’s something about the cherry that enhances sleep,” Korson said. “We know it promotes sleep, but we don’t know why it promotes sleep.” The study has gotten a lot of interest from all over the country from people interested in getting a good night’s sleep, he said. The tart cherry revolution began in about 1977 when the many health benefits of the tiny fruit began to come to the forefront. While lots of people knew those benefits existed, there was not a lot of science behind it, Korson said. In the late 1980s, scientists began looking at what research had been done, he said. “What are those things about the cherry that are unique and different?” Korson said. The role of the tart cherry in easing post-workout muscle pain has long been known, and several athletic teams are already on cherry juice regimens, Korson said, including the Detroit Red Wings, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Michigan State University. The No. 1 healthy attribute, in fact, of the Montmorency cherry is its antiinflammatory properties, Korson said. With many diseases being inflammationrelated, much of the research funded by CMI is connected to that inflammation piece, he said. Two research projects are just starting at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom that will take a look at how drinking cherry juice affects things like blood flow, brain function and the body’s recovery after strenuous exercise. Many tart cherries grown in the United States are sold for use in muscle-recovery

products in the United Kingdom and for the baking industry in Germany. CMI marketing efforts in those countries are targeted toward sporting events and the food market. Here at home, the CMI team has attended about 20 marathons all over the country in the last few years, giving out product samples and spreading the message of the benefits of cherries for athletes, both in muscle recovery and enhancement of athletic ability. “When you run, jump or bicycle you’re causing inflammation,” Korson said. “Cherry juice is the way to help those muscles recover from that strain more quickly.” Another study being done at Northumbria is examining whether tart cherry juice concentrate can reduce uric acid, the substance that is often the culprit in gout. At Texas Women’s University the impact of cherry juice on joint flexibility and pain in knee osteoarthritis is being studied, and at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center the prevention of cardiovascular inflammation with tart cherry extract, which contains antioxidants that may prevent age-related diseases, is being studied. A study at Oklahoma State University is looking at the effects of tart cherries on osteoporosis and aging; another at the Tufts University USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging is geared toward the cherry’s effect on age-related changes and will measure cognitive and motor function. Korson said many people are trying to eat healthy so they can take less medication. “People are really scouring the countryside to find those things that are good for them and are all-natural products,” he said. To learn more about tart cherry research visit: www.cherryresearch.com.

Decadent desserts with a cherry twist Continued from Page 12 which she describes as more like a cheesecake. “I love the walnut crust,” LaCross said. “It’s just a nice little crispy layer. Then you put that cream cheesy layer on and the Cool Whip layer and the cherries ... It’s just one of the most wonderful desserts that is cool and creamy.” LaCross has been baking since she was very young. She grew up on a dairy farm and helped her mother cook huge meals for farmhands, haymakers and threshers. When she was about 10 her mother got a job and LaCross began fixing lunch for her father. But those lunches were actually full meals where she learned to cook meat and fry potatoes. “He wanted more than just a bologna sandwich,” she said. “He wanted a substantial meal.” Another recipe that is perfect for Sunday breakfast is the Danish dessert that Jozell Rexroat likes to make. The sweet treat is quick and easy, Rexroat said, which makes it a winner in her book. The Lake Leelanau cook may have picked up some of her baking tips from her mother, Joan Korson, who once made a gigantic cherry pie for President Bill Clinton and sent it to the White House. Korson, who died about two years ago, ran a bakery from the first floor of her Lake Leelanau home called Joan’s Bakery. She made cinnamon rolls and

twists, cookies and several kinds of bread, Rexroat said. “She was probably most known for her cinnamon twists and bread,” Rexroat said. “She was a great baker. She made all kinds of stuff.” And for those who prefer homemade cherry pie filling to the store-bought

variety, the Enterprise has included a recipe from the Heavenly Favorites cookbook submitted by Eunice Novak. The cookbook is still available at Holy Rosary Church. Copies are $18 and can be purchased by calling the church at 228-5429 or by email at holyrosarycedar@gmail.com.

Recipes Continued from Page 12

Danish 2 8 oz. cans Pillsbury crescent rolls 2 packages cream cheese, softened 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar, divided 1 egg 1 tsp. vanilla 1 can cherry pie filling Unroll one can of Crescent dough and press into bottom of 13” x 9” pan sprayed with cooking spray, making sure to seal the perforations. Mix cream cheese, 3/4 cup of the powdered sugar, egg and vanilla until well-blended. Spread on crust. Cover with cherry pie filling. Unroll second can of dough, using rolling pin and lay on top of mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

Section 3, Page 13

Cherry crop needs help from Mother Nature

The Red Report, a new look at the power of tart cherries, featuring more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific studies on tart cherries. The Red Report can be found on choosecherries.com

By Patti Brandt Of The Enterprise staff

THE LEELANAU ENTERPRISE

Beat together milk and remaining 3/4 cup powdered sugar until well-blended. Drizzle over top of danish when cooled. Recipe submitted by Jozell Rexroat of Lake Leelanau.

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling 4 c. sour cherries, pitted 1 1/2 c. sugar 3 tbsp. minute tapioca 1/4 tsp. almond extract Put cherries, tapioca, sugar and almond extract in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until mixture is thickened, stirring frequently. Mixture has to boil for about 20 to 30 minutes, longer if cooked over low heat. Recipe by Eunice Novak, published in the Heavenly Favorites Shining Forth Cookbook - 2012, by Holy Rosary Parish.

After an extremely challenging year, Leelanau county cherry growers are looking forward to a great 2013. So, in case anyone comes upon a magic lamp in their travels, here are three wishes that they might want to ask the genie to help with the 2013 cherry crop: • First wish: no spring frost events. Living in northern Michigan, this first wish is a biggie. However, some compounding factors have made spring freeze events more impactful than in previous years. To review, this county, along with the four others that make up northwest Michigan, produce 50 percent of the nation’s tart cherries. This feat is attributed to many factors, but Lake Michigan plays a major role in moderating the climate in a region that is on the same latitude as Deer Island, New Brunswick. One major change in Lake Michigan is how often Grand Traverse Bay freezes over. The bay used to freeze over annually, and the slow thawing of this ice in spring would keep the cherry trees dormant well past many of the frost events. However, the bay has frozen over only one time from 20002006, which results in increased vulnerability of cherry trees to early spring frosts. Trees that come out of dormancy early in the spring have to weather more frost events than trees that remain dormant well into April. Unfortunately, 2012 was a perfect example of trees coming out of dormancy early with devastating results. We had a mild winter, which was followed by an unusual March warm-up that lasted seven days, and during that time, tart cherry trees moved out of dormancy and began to grow. Those temperatures accelerated the degreeday accumulations, and by the start of April, we were five weeks ahead of schedule. Even if the calendar said it was the beginning of April, we had accumulated enough heat units to move the trees along to begin tart cherry bloom on April 9th; tart cherry bloom typically begins around May 12th.This situation has presented regional fruit farmers with some major challenges. If cherry trees move out of dormancy and buds begin to swell in early May, growers track the below-freezing night time temperatures that could damage those tender buds. In a ‘normal’ year, the risk window for frost is approximately four weeks. In 2012, cherry bud swell started at the end of March, which extended that risk window by another four weeks — essentially cherry buds would be in danger from frost for over eight weeks this year compared to the typical four. Here at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station in Bingham Township, we recorded 13 nights below freezing and 85 hours below freezing. In 2008, we had two nights below freezing and only four hours below freezing. So, if we had the chance to modify this first wish, let’s ask for the following sub-wishes: winter to bring it on for its remainder; the bay to freeze over; no early warm-ups; and finally, no spring frosts. • Second wish: perfect pollination weather. In the past five years, our springs have been variable, and we have seen more than our fair share of cold, wet, and windy weather during this period. At this time, spring blooming perennial fruit crops, such as apple and cherry, are highly dependent on pollination. Good pollination translates into higher yields, better fruit quality and, ultimately, higher returns for growers. To achieve this goal, cherry growers annually rent or manage honey bee hives to provide pollination in their orchards, but unfortunately these insects do not like to fly under adverse conditions. Honeybees prefer to fly when temperatures are above 50 degrees F and conditions are sunny and calm. Both tart and sweet cherries benefit from pollinator visitation. A sweet cherry orchard is often planted in rows

DR. NIKKI ROTHWELL, district horticulturalist and NWMHRC coordinator, offers a wish list for 2013 cherry growers.

with alternating varieties in such a way that pollen from one row is ‘compatible’ or is able to pollinate adjacent rows; hence, most sweet cherries are completely dependent on insect pollination to produce fruit. In contrast, tart cherry trees are self-fertile but increasing the number of pollinators in an orchard has shown to substantially augment yield and quality. Therefore to produce an adequate cherry crop, we need healthy honeybees, adequate bloom, and most importantly good weather to get all the pieces to work in unison. • Third wish: adequate rainfall spread out evenly from April to July. Rainfall has also become less predictable in recent years. For instance, last year started out very wet but by midsummer, we were in a drought situation. This variable precipitation causes headaches for growers for multiple reasons. First, most pathogens that cause disease in cherry are all dependent on moisture, and for many fungi, warm and wet conditions are ideal for fungal growth and spread. Growers manage these fungi using disease specific infection models and well-timed fungicide applications. These applications are often expensive and are only applied when the model warrants control. In 2012, we had an early development of one of the most problematic diseases called cherry leaf spot, which was caused by frequent and heavy early spring rains. This disease got a toehold early, and rose to epidemic levels at some farms through the season. If the rains come perfectly timed, growers can manage disease with minimal applications while the precipitation provides adequate moisture for growing trees. The other issue of ill-timed rain is that if it comes at sweet cherry harvest time, it causes those fruits to crack. Cracking is a major problem in producing sweet cherries in humid climates, like Michigan. There is also very little known about the mechanism that cause fruit to crack, and cracking has stumped both growers and researchers for many years. Although much effort has been made to understand the physiology of cracking, there are few control options that will prevent this economically damaging problem from happening — except, of course, no rain during sweet cherry harvest. I am sure we could come up with a few more wishes for a successful 2013 cherry season, but if that lamp is found before we hit bloom, these three will get us started. Here’s to hoping for a great year.


Page 14, Section 3

THE LEELANAU ENTERPRISE

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gregory named top cherry person By Alan Campbell Of The Enterprise staff

Bob Gregory has added a red blazer to his wardrobe â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a symbol of his lifelong advocacy for the cherry industry. Gregory, who has been named Cherry Industry Person of the Year, spent little time reflecting on his achievements after receiving his award at the Cherry Marketing Institute luncheon held last month. Instead, he went right on advocating. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think some of you growers in the industry have forgotten where weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been,â&#x20AC;? Gregory said at the luncheon. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Each of you know we have to work together.â&#x20AC;? Gregory was concerned that some growers were losing faith in industrywide programs to match cherry production with demand, fund research and promote the health benefits of tart cherries. The programs are paid for through two industry-approved surcharges placed on tart cherries. One surcharge is up for election next year; growers and handlers will determine whether itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s extended. Gregory drew a comparison between a three-legged stool and the missions of three cherry programs. The legs are represented by: â&#x20AC;˘ The Cherry Marketing Institute, which is funded through grants and surcharges on cherries approved by state grower organizations. It pays for research and marketing efforts. â&#x20AC;˘ The Cherry Industry Administrative Boardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s three-quarter cent surcharge is paid by handlers. Its fate will be decided in 2014. CIAB serves as a mechanism to balance supply and demand. â&#x20AC;˘ Cherrco, an industry-created group that sets the price for frozen cherries. A uniform price is needed to promote trade and sell to manufacturers. Gregory recalled his early years in the cherry business, when the price per pound of tart cherries plummeted from 55 cents in 1991 to 5 cents four years later. He said some growers will always be unhappy with their returns, but overall the industry is in much better shape today compared to the wild ups and downs of the early 90â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. He doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want the industry to turn back. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s where you want to go, go there. I wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be around very much longer. But we wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t leave much of a legacy,â&#x20AC;? Gregory said. After the luncheon, Gregory took time to reflect on the honor he had received. The room had been sprinkled with other people wearing red blazers. They are past recipients of the industry of the year award, which has been given out annually since 1980. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a very warm feeling to know that other cherry growers and people in the cherry industry feel youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been making a positive contribution,â&#x20AC;? he said. He couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t help but offer a lighthearted comment about the 2012 crop failure: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Up until recently, I was thinking I was the cherry-less person of the year.â&#x20AC;? Bob, his brother Don, and other

Gregory family members own Cherry Bay Orchards in Suttons Bay Township. The Gregorys have expanded their operations to include fruit processing; some 2,400 acres in Leelanau and Van Buren counties planted in cherries, apples, pears and wine grapes; and even the Chateau de Leelanau winery in Bingham Township. Bob and his wife, Dianne, have four children, Matthew, Peter, Carrie and Andrew; and five grandchildren. Two other awards given through the National Cherry Festival were presented at the luncheon: â&#x20AC;˘ Mary and Whitney Lyon of Island View Orchards on Old Mission Peninsula were presented with the industryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Lifetime Achievement Award. The Lyon farm began under a land grant in 1876 with 40 acres by Whitneyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s grandfather. His wife, the former Mary Clous, grew up on a farm in the Hannah Kingsley area. At one time, six generations of the Lyon family worked on day-to-day operations at Island View Orchards.

The Whitneys are parents of 10 children. After hearing a long list of accolades for their accomplishments, Mary Lyon brought the house down with her comment: â&#x20AC;&#x153;I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t realize I was sleeping with a man that old.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;˘ Norman and Marjory Veliquette were named recipients of the Very Cherry Promotion Award. The Veliquettes grew up on farms in northwest Michigan on which cherries supplemented the main enterprises of field crops and dairy. Norm helped develop the 1971 federal marketing order for red tart cherries, served for 12 years on the Cherry Administrative Board, and was an original member of the Cherry Industry Administrative Board. The couple has worked as partners processing tart cherries for more than 40 years at their small plant in Kewadin. Their operation is synonymous with high quality, efficiency, safety, environmental friendliness and profitability. They have three children, and seven grandchildren.

BOB GREGORY, right, is presented the Industry Person of the Year award from Mike Broden, National Cherry Festival president at the Cherry Marketing Institute luncheon Jan. 22. Photos by Gary F. Kaberle

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6,1&( CHERRY HOME, Leelanau Countyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first truly large planting of the popular fruit, now dates back a full century, having been planted in 1912-13. In this early air photo (taken about 85 years ago) one sees the dock, adjacent to the processing facilities, where cherries were shipped to urban markets. Unprocessed cherries were also received, by boat, from other orchards located around Grand Traverse Bay. Processing was later shifted to Northport because of increasing demands being placed upon the cannery at Cherry Home. Northport also offered better protection for waterborne traffic.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

THE LEELANAU ENTERPRISE

Section 3, Page 15

Transportation was vital to early cherry exports By Jim Brinkman for the Enterprise

Transportation is vital. Without it, it didn’t matter how valuable what grew on the farmers’ land was. For early 19th Century settlers in southern Michigan, otherwise precious trees constituted an impediment to putting in food crops. Thousands of trees were cut and burned — their value was not great enough to absorb the cost of hauling them to a point where there might be some demand for them. And Leelanau, even decades later, was especially “off the beaten track.” Or was it? Although the Grand Traverse region was isolated in some regards (before the 1870s, residents spoke of “going outside”), Lake Michigan constituted a broad and well traveled “highway.” And it was no happenstance the Manitou Islands were among the earliest areas of the county to be settled. Timber cut on the islands could be sold as “propeller wood” to passing steamers until they switched to coal for fuel. Crops raised on island farms and orchards could be taken to market by the same vessels. For decades, the county as a whole was reliant on ships to bring in staples and manufactured items, as well as to provide conveyance to distant cities. In turn the departing ships were loaded with lumber, potatoes, and premium fruit.

Enter the railroads

Traverse City was reached by its first railroad, a branch of the Grand Rapids and Indiana, late in 1872. Ironically, the branch was built by H.O. Rose of Northport and W.W. Barton of Leland — two decades before Leelanau County had its own first railroad. This was the Manistee and Northeastern — looping through the southeastern part of the county on its way to Traverse City (that town’s third). A branch of the M. N. & E. ran from Solon to Cedar City and Provemont (Lake Leelanau). Interestingly enough, the railroad did not acknowledge subsequent name changes in the later two communities. In 1903, the Traverse City, Leelanau and Manistique Railroad was completed to Northport, where it was soon connected to the Upper Peninsula by car ferry. This service did not prove successful, and it was permanently terminated in about five years. Service on the rail line was suspended 10 years later, but the story was far from over. “Service was restored at the behest of the Federal government, which operated the road for three months in the fall of 1918 in order to move the crops to market,” Robert Burton wrote in 1967. He went on to chronicle how local ownership revived the line, which continued a precarious existence for a few more years, because it fulfilled a “marginal economic need.” Other county rail operations, at Empire, Glen Haven, and North Manitou Island, centered around timber production and had little, if any, impact on the cherry industry. Finally, after three-quarters of a century of precarious operation, the old TCL & M rail line to Northport was abandoned by its current operator, the Chesapeake and Ohio R.R. “The TCL & M played a big part in the lives of Leelanau County people for at least a generation,” the late local historian, Larry Wakefield wrote. “The last freight train to Suttons Bay was in 1979; the line beyond to Northport had been abandoned in the 1960s.” Tracks passing through Traverse City were taken up and Leelanau County was once again isolated – rail-wise, at least.

The cherry boats

The initial planting of 14,000 trees at Cherry Home, north of Northport, was completed 100 years ago. The operation was started by Francis Haserot, a Cleveland Wholesale Grocer and seasonal visitor who saw the fruit growing potentail On the waterfront of Grand Traverse Bay a cannery and dock were built and cherries were gathered, by boat, from orchards around the bay. The most familiar boat operating from the cannery was the steamer Gilman D. It not only brought in cherries for processing, but supplied the plant with its operating needs and took finished cherries to market upon the completion of canning operations. The little steamer, incidentally, was named for Haserot’s friend and associate, Gilman Dame, who served as head of Michigan’s Republican Party almost a century ago. The evening arrival of the “cherry boat” back “home” constituted the day’s highlight at the cannery. This operation may be considered a success

THE STEAMER PURITAN, built in 1901 at Toledo, Ohio, was closely associated with the rapid transportation of fresh west Michigan fruit to major markets. It was wrecked on the reef at Isle Royale’s Rock of Ages on May 27, 1933. because, within about ten years, the plant’s capacity was barely adequate. Furthermore, the dock on the open bay proved to be less than ideal – it was vulnerable to storm damage. In any event, a new cannery was built at Northport in 1929, and operations were shifted there. This operation continued for several decades.

The Puritan

Of all the steel express ships built for West Michigan service, none was more familiar or better loved than the steamer Puritan. Constructed in 1901 by Craig Shipbuilding for the Graham and Morton line of Benton Harbor, it later came under control of Northern Michigan Transit, which also operated the steamers Manitou and Illinois. G & M boats were known for carrying fresh West Michigan fruit and produce directly across the lake to Chicago. They also returned with visitors to the “Dustless Road to Happyland” (this slogan was developed to counter the ever-widening use of the competing automobile). Once a small wooden steamer was leaving Benton Harbor with a load of fruit aboard when someone tossed a capsule aboard form the drawspan above. It was a dire warning from the local weatherman that said, essentially, “is this trip really necessary?” It was. Captain Charles Anderson, who resided (in the winter months) on South Manitou Island, owned the vessel he commanded and felt he could not delay departure with his precious cargo. It would literally become less valuable with each passing hour. Small steamers, often owned by their captain, carried whatever cargoes they were able to find.

Anderson, incidentally, typically contacted the Ann Arbor Railroad at Frankfort at the start of each year’s navigation season and one of their icebreaking car ferries would take him off the island. Although the Puritan was good-sized, it wasn’t too big (even after an early lengthening) to call at places like Onekama, where it could dock at the famous Portage Point Inn before departing with a load of Manistee County fruit. In Leelanau County, the Puritan appears to have docked most frequently at Northport and D.H. Day’s Dock at Glen Haven, where a cannery had been built. In retrospect, we called that era the “Roaring Twenties;” perhaps partly because of what we now know followed them. The Great Depression, which followed the infamous stock market crash of 1929, put all the major Lake Michigan steamship lines out of business. The Goodrich Line, which had absorbed G & M, went bankrupt, and smaller operatives followed suit. New owners, in some instances, tried to make money with some of the ships, but were generally not successful. The Puritan and running mate Manitou were both sold and re-named and re-routed. The latter became Isle Royale and the former the George M. Cox (after the principle new owner). In their new roles, both ships visited Lake Superior, but the former Puritan stayed there — for good. In its issue of June 1, 1933, the Enterprise reported that, in its inaugural excursion to Lake Superior as the Cox, the Puritan had struck the reef, in fog, at Rock of Ages Light at the Southern tip of Isle Royale. It was a spectacular shipwreck, canted heavily to port with the entire bow clear of the water. It looked

somewhat similar to last year’s wrecked Costa Concordia in the Mediterranean. In this instance there were no fatalities, although several of the hundred plus aboard were injured. All were retrieved by the Coast Guard but the old Puritan was done for. Before the ship could be salvaged it was broken up and sunk by storms. The loss was alluded to again by the Enterprise in its edition of August 10, 1933. In a story that reported on the conclusion of the cherry packing season, the newspaper stated that the Northport factory had packed 100 carloads of cherries and Michigan Cherry Growers, at Suttons Bay, had packed 1,450,000 pounds. At Glen Haven, D.H. Day, Jr., related his facility had packed about 1,250,000 pounds of the fruit. This was somewhat less than that of previous years, but of high quality. It was then noted that the former Puritan was not available that summer and “with that ship on the rocks in Lake Superior, it will be necessary to ship by land this year.” Actually, even had it not sunk, it is very doubtful that the ship would have ever returned to Leelanau. Everything had already changed and a colorful era on the Great Lakes came to a fairly abrupt end. Smaller factors had already been working against the familiar ships and they were poised to fall off the “Financial Cliff” once it arrived. Although new operators, like Cox, attempted to make a profit on the aging lake vessels, few were unable to do so “until today the Lake passenger steamer is, with only a very few exceptions, a thing of the past,” James Elliot wrote in his book, “Red Stacks Over the Horizon.” “An exciting, challenging, and wonderful era is now gone forever.”

Suttons Bay had cherry day to remember in 1962 By Jim Brinkman for the Enterprise

It was a festive occasion. And the Enterprise carried the story. “Suttons Bay took on a holiday atmosphere for the arrival of the Dutch freighter Stella Prima,” the newspaper reported in its edition of November 22, 1962, adding “it was the first foreign ship ever to visit the local port.” The ship had arrived at 8 a.m. the previous day. Townspeople had been anticipating the arrival of the Hycar Line vessel for about three weeks and “it was hoped that the event might lead to future shipments and re-establish Suttons Bay as a port city.” In the 1930s cherries had been sent from Traverse City, by water, all the way to the East Coast. Also, Northport cherries had been shipped all the way to England. Now it was Suttons Bay’s turn. Kids were let out of school and the school band, properly attired in uniform, was on hand to meet the ship. A number of local people were allowed to come on board and look around. The cargo, about 700 tons of canned cherries, was primarily assembled by Cherry Growers, Inc., with the balance provided by Traverse City Canning Company. The cherries were destined for Belgium and West Germany. There was however, one glitch to the whole plan — water! That is, lack of it. When the little ship (170’ in length) tied up at the end of the coal dock, the depth of 16 feet was

LOCAL CITIZENRY was allowed to inspect the Stella Prima (this is the engine room). An initially festive occasion became tense, however, after it was discovered there were loading problems confronting the project. Photo courtesy of Jim Brinkman sufficient, but ship’s officers soon determined it wouldn’t be once the “Stella Prima” was loaded. They wouldn’t be able to “float their boat,” and, to make matters worse, the St. Lawrence Seaway was scheduled to close at the end of the month. Time was of the essence. The clock was ticking while officials discussed other possible options, such as — could the boat be loaded somewhere else on the bay? Meanwhile, the captain had to have been very, very anxious to leave. He had been patient and

hospitable toward his visitors, but someone had even walked off with his binoculars. Finally, barges were brought in and placed between the dock and the ship. The boxes of canned cherries were brought across the decks of the barges and successfully loaded for the trip to Europe. Northern Michigan cherries destined for overseas had been shipped from Suttons Bay — “Port to the World!” Well, at least for a few days.


Page 16, Section 3

THE LEELANAU ENTERPRISE

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Life down on the fruit farm good for Popps Life on a fruit farm is truly a family affair for Richard and Betty Popp of Leelanau Township. The couple, married for more than 50 years, have spent most of their life together on the farm and before that were brought up farming. Richard raised cherries and dairy cows on the family farm on Popp Road in Leland Township. Betty (Houdek) grew up on a general farm near St. Wenceslaus church. “We had grains, strawberries and milk cows,” she said. Richard, a St. Mary graduate, served in the U.S. Army in Germany from 1951 through 1956 before returning to the county. Betty, six year’s his junior, graduated from Leland. The two married in 1961 and began their life together in Suttons Bay. But it didn’t take long for them to — at least in part — return to farm life. “We were 13 years in Suttons Bay and partway through, we bought the farm here,” said Richard, whose strong hands make him look much younger than his 78 years. Richard would work his day job as a mason, return home and then go work at the farm — about six miles north of the village. “I didn’t have gas there, so I’d use a hose to suck gas out of my truck for the tractor,” Rich said. Neither was there a house on the farm — just acreage. Betty stayed home with their six children, born over a 10-year period, and oftentimes didn’t see her husband until he returned home — long after their children had retired for the night. “It got to a point where I told him ‘We have to sell one of these places,’” Betty said. Their home in Suttons Bay sold and they moved into the house they had built on the Leelanau Township acreage. In the early 1970s, the construction code wasn’t as stringent as it is today, allowing the Popp family to move in well before the home was totally complete. “We had no carpeting ... no curtains, but we were all in one spot,” Betty said. Their four sons and two daughters went to work in the orchard as soon as they were big enough, during the harvest. Initially, the Popps contracted with another local grower to shake their fruit. Then they purchased a “shock wave kit” which Richard mounted on an old truck to shake their 34 acres of tarts, plus additional fruit acreages leased from other growers. “All of our kids were tarp pullers as soon as they were big enough to get under a tree,” Richard said. Betty was also in the orchard, watching her children as they contributed to the family business with their labor. The Popp farm work crew included Richard, Betty, their children plus Betty’s brother-in-law Jerome Panek of Elmwood Township. “They never complained,” she said. Betty would plan ahead and have lunch ready for them at noon. It is those times, during the harvest, that Richard considers his favorite part of life. “I’ve always liked the harvest,” he said. “There wasn’t much money, not like they’re making now. “But we made enough to pay the bills after the leases.” Although decades have passed since their first time in the orchard, the Popp children come home each summer to help with the harvest. Sons Wayne, Steve and Ken schedule their summer vacations around the harvest and return to the farm to assist in the family enterprise along with locals Jackie Popp and Janet Leggett, teachers at Grand Traverse Academy and St. Mary, respectively, and brother, Bryan of Maple City. Like any business, fruit growing had its highs and lows over the years. “The years when we had the leases were our best. We were able to buy equipment and put away enough money to get by the poorer years,” Richard said. Last year was one of those. The

Popps had three tanks of tarts. During a “normal” year, if there is such a thing, their acreage would produce at least 200 tanks. In 2002, the last “crop disaster of the century,” they harvested no cherries. Offsetting this loss last year is income generated by Betty’s presence at local farmer’s markets. She sells blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches and cherries — if there are any available — plus baked goods. “This year that income with Betty working three days a week was better than what we had on cherries,” Richard said. It wasn’t the first time Betty worked out of the home. After their children graduated from Northport School, Betty took a position at Northern Michigan Fruit in Omena and spent 10 years there working in quality control before “retiring.” Life on the farm has been good, they said. If it wasn’t, Richard wouldn’t be following through with plans to plant 300 additional tart trees this spring. “Young couples nowadays have a hard time of it,” Betty said. “We had the leases and Richard is a good mechanic and he was able to do much of the repairs himself and we were able to put some money away for retirement. “It’s been real good.”

LIFE ON the farm has been good for Betty and Richard Popp, above, of Leelanau Township. On left is harvest time at the Popp farm. Pictured is Richard Popp and his granddaughter Samantha, who comes from downstate to help bring in the crop.

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Tribute to cherry month feb 7, 2013