Tart Cherry cropin Midwest destroyed by Weather.
SISTER BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Walk into Cherry Republic's store in the heart of the nation's biggest tart cherry producing region, and you could end up with jam or salsa with fruit that had to be imported from Poland.
Cherry Republic can't get enough tart cherries from its local orchards because 97 percent of Michigan's crop was destroyed this year by a freak weather pattern. An unseasonably warm March that caused trees to bud was followed by an April freeze that killed the blossoms.
Trees in New York and Wisconsin, which have smaller but still significant tart cherry harvests, suffered the same weather damage.
Prices usually skyrocket when farmers take that kind of a loss, or in severe cases consumers might just have to give up on a fruit for a season. But that won't happen in this case because of some unique factors in the tart cherry industry. As a result, cherry processors are scrambling to get what fruit they can, sometimes from Poland or Turkey, and taking a financial hit in an effort to keep prices low.