Summer storm damage on The Ridge
Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.
For the weekend of August 8, there were several heavy rain events that occurred without hail or high winds. Rainfall totals for the general Sparta area were between 3.5 and 4.5 inches for the entire weekend. On Sunday, August 9, at about 6:30 PM a storm system moved very quickly over The Ridge. The storm brought heavy rains and very high winds. There were no hail reports associated with this storm front, but the winds were enough. These straight-line winds were estimated at 60 mph-plus. The least damage resulted in a few apples on the ground. The worst damage included nearly whole blocks of apple trees laid down from being snapped off at the graft union.
At this time, it’s too early to estimate the total damage. It was difficult to scout for damage on Monday morning, August 10, because many roads were still blocked from downed trees and power lines. As of the morning of August 11, much of the area is still without power. From my initial scouting on Monday, I estimate that 100 to 200 acres of apples are lost from being broken at the graft union. There are many other acres with a few broken trees here and there. Even more acres yet, with fruit on the ground, but surprisingly not as much as I would have expected. I didn’t see any bruising of fruit on Monday morning, but that might still show up with time. Many growers report they are surprised to not see torn foliage or bruised fruits given the extremely high winds. Hopefully, the bruising doesn’t show up at all.
There are some blocks that are totally wiped out and snapped off with blocks right next to them that have little or no damage to trees at all. That is a most likely a factor of the rootstock and scion combination causing weak points at the graft union that just couldn’t withstand 60 mph winds. It’s also a factor of tree size, age, crop load and training system.
Below are some photos of the storm's damage.