By LAUREN GIBBONS
Capital News Service
LANSING — As apple growers statewide struggle to make up for losses, experts say the economic ramifications of one of the toughest crop years in history could have negative long-term effect. Last spring, Michigan’s orchards were devastated by a series of weather anomalies that caused many trees to bloom weeks ahead of normal, causing the fragile blooms to die in the frosts that followed. Growers still are harvesting the crop, but estimates indicate they’ll oreap about 3 million bushels of apples statewide — millions below the average 26 million, Michigan Apple Committee Executive Director Diane Smith said. The crop has decimated an industry normally worth about $120 million a year. Taking into account losses incurred by suppliers, workers and chemical providers, the loss is even more devastating, said Amy Irish-Brown, an MSU Extension educator specializing in commercial tree fruit in Southwest Michigan.