(May 23) BYRON CENTER, Mich. — Cold weather in western Michigan in mid-May caused sporadic frost damage in some summer vegetable crops, but the extent won’t be known until closer to harvest, growers said.

Temperatures dipped into the high 20s near Benton Harbor and north to the Grand Rapids area on the morning of May 20, the third day in a row with freezing weather during a spring that has brought temperatures 10 to 15 degrees below normal.

Dave Miedema, president of E. Miedema & Sons Inc., Byron Center, said his green peppers haven’t been transplanted from the greenhouse to the field yet, but some early sweet corn probably will be lost.

Young cabbage plants were spared damage, but Roger Steenwyk’s celery, planted just before the freeze, had turned yellow.

“Basically, we won’t know for a couple of weeks,” said Steenwyk, of C. Steenwyk & Sons, Byron Center, about possible damage.

Excessive rains in the past two planting seasons delayed work in the fields, and this spring has brought both rain and cold. While the Michigan vegetable season will start up to two weeks later because of the cold, the overall effects remain to be seen, said Randy Bolhuis, sales manager for Van Solkema Produce Inc., Byron Center.

“We try to close the gap between Florida, Georgia and us, but there might be a gap this year,” Bolhuis said.

Charles Hackensmith, manager of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market News Service in Benton Harbor, said the cold weather has eliminated pest problems and fire blight in apple trees. Hackensmith said there wasn’t widespread damage from the freeze.

“It’s almost different from one site to the next, one crop to the next, one variety to the next,” he said.