Sundae and cherries image

The best ice cream sundaes are the ones with a cherry on top. But for that cherry to get to the top of your sundae, a lot of things have to go perfectly right.

Newman: “When you’re growing fruit, or growing nuts, you are essentially stacking your bets on one of the most delicate manifestations of nature, and that’s a flower.”

That’s Trevor Newman of Roots to Fruits Ecological Design, a landscaping firm in Michigan. He says a few years ago, most of Michigan’s cherry crop was ruined after a cold snap came in the middle of an unusually warm spring. The cherry blossoms had emerged early – and then froze when temperatures dropped.

Newman: “Those farmers that are growing just one thing and kind of putting all their eggs in one basket as it were, they’re kind of in a bad situation when that happens.”

As the climate changes, winters are getting warmer in Michigan. And erratic weather could lead to more spring freezes. So Newman suggests cherry farmers introduce other fruit and nut varieties into their orchards.

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Newman: “It gives us a little bit more cushion, you know, if the cherries fail, well we’ve got a few other things, we’re not stacking all our bets on these, just this one crop.”

That could help cherry farmers stay afloat as the climate changes – so they can continue growing that cherry for the top of your ice cream sundae.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.

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Daisy Simmons

Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in research-driven storytelling. In addition to contributing to Yale Climate Connections since early 2016, she also...