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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published July 06 2012

Weather Talk: Warmth in early spring resulted in crop damage

Across most of the United States east of the Mississippi River, this past March was the warmest on record. For the most part, the record warmth was an exclamation mark to a mild winter season.

In Fargo-Moorhead, the 78-degree temperature on March 16 was the earliest 70-degree day on record, and the low temperature of 60 degrees three days later broke the March record for a daily low by 12 degrees.

But the early season warmth resulted in huge losses to fruit crops in the Middle West. After the early warmth caused many fruits to bear early, more typical April weather brought frosts and freezes that caused widespread damage. The Wisconsin cherry crop, grown in Door County, northeast of Green Bay, is expected to sustain a 70 percent loss this year. In Michigan, growers’ profits from the grape crop are expected to be reduced from $24 million last year to less than $2 million this year.

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