“It was a good spring – no frosts or frosts” for local orchards

Local orchards are increasingly difficult to find. Caring for fruit trees requires special knowledge and hard work.

But the few orchards still open in St. Joseph, Branch and Hillsdale counties are reporting that their trees are laden with blossom, so they anticipate a good harvest of fruit.

Spring 2022 has been a long time coming. The temperature remained consistently below normal until early May, which is not a bad thing for fruit tree blossoms. Flowers mean fruits in this business.

“It’s been a good spring,” said Beth Hubbard, owner of Hubbard’s Corey Lake Orchard in Three Rivers. “There were no frosts or frosts. We hope it will stay that way.

Because it “went from winter to summer,” Hubbard said the trees flowered quickly, but with the very hot temperatures and winds, the pedals fell quickly.

People who wanted photos among the flowers could hardly get there in time, she said.

The orchard has been on Corey Lake for 61 years, started by Dayton and Allene Hubbard, Beth’s parents. On 275 acres, there’s also an expansive vineyard, and the orchard grows nearly all of Michigan’s fruit, much of it with a self-pick option, and many vegetables, Hubbard said.

As the seasons change, Hubbard’s begins the year by selling bedding plants, rhubarb and asparagus. U-pick strawberries will arrive in June, but with the price of gas, Hubbard said to check the Facebook page or call before coming.

The orchard also has a popular bakery, winery and cider house. In the fall, it’s a fun family destination for all things harvesting.

In nearby communities, Orchard Beach Farm in Quincy is Branch County’s only remaining orchard, open only when fruit is in season.

Co-owners Phillip and Margaret Muir tend to the trees that Margaret’s father planted in the 1930s and are still bearing fruit.

Their daughter, Ruth Boone, and her family, who reside in the Chicago area, have taken an interest in the orchard and have planted hundreds of other trees that will likely bear fruit within the next five or six years.

In Hillsdale, Meckley’s Flavor Fruit Farm, also a 60-year-old business, is open year-round – a destination with a bakery and brewery.

Glei’s Orchard and Greenhouse, Hillsdale’s other orchard, is temporarily closed. According to its Facebook page, Glei’s went into receivership in December 2021. The goal is to open by September.

On 275 acres, Hubbard's Corey Lake Orchard grows all of Michigan's fruit, including grapes for customers and for their winery.

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