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Weather rollercoaster continues

Published 11:13pm Wednesday, May 30, 2012

June weather in March devastated Berrien County’s fruit crop, and May continued the rollercoaster ride.

Temperatures see-sawed between the 90s in the daytime to 40-degree cooler swings at night.

Wednesday offered a heat reprieve from the hot Memorial Day holiday.

“I’ll just enjoy it. It’s either been one way or the other,” said Eau Claire fruit farmer Herb Teichman. “I’ve seen killing frosts in May, but never this up and down.”

Teichman, a 1948 Dowagiac graduate, maintains a National Weather Service station, which he took over in 1968 from his father, William, who had been a volunteer observer since 1923. His station is 870 feet above sea level.

Teichman, host of the July 7 39th annual International Cherry Pit Spit, has yet to tabulate May readings, but noted the thermometer touched 99 one day.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It’s normally not in the 90s in May. Where we’ve usually got apple blossoms, we’ve got apples on the trees and are picking sweet cherries.”

That’s right, thanks to the elevation of his Tree-Mendus orchards, Teichman’s crop wasn’t wiped out by April freezes which blew in after the March melt.

He also credits carrying “a rabbit’s foot and four-leaf clovers” for good luck, soothing Chicago customers that there will be a fruit crop.

“Now, we’re being attacked by birds. They know cherries are ready,” Teichman said. “The best cherry picking will be next week, which will help get rid of the birds. We’ll use the people for scarecrows.”

“It is kind of unusual,” Teichman said of weather patterns. “If you see a farmer smiling, he has something up his sleeve because most are frowning.”

As to what to make of Mother Nature’s mood swings, “I’ve concluded you need to live longer than one life to make those predictions,” since he can cite periodic extremes.

Apricots are a fragile fruit, “but we’ve still got plenty,” he said, adding that tart cherries will be ready in two weeks, ahead of the typical July, then apricots and peaches.

With 250 varieties of apples, Tree-Mendus usually sees ripening last from July to October. However, the apples are ahead of schedule.

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