Michigan State University (MSU) horticulture professor Jim Flore accepted and donned the official red sports jacket as he was honored as Cherry Industry Person of the Year on July 7.
Flore received the honor at the MSU Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center, where public tours are conducted in coordination with the National Cherry Festival.
The distinction, presented by the Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI), is awarded to individuals who have shown exemplary support for the industry. Flore received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from MSU and has been a faculty member at his alma mater since 1974. He has devoted much of his career to the advancement of the Michigan fruit industry.
Phil Korson, CMI executive director, said Flore has played an instrumental role in helping cherry growers remain on the cutting edge while also encouraging sustainable growing practices.
“Jim has provided leadership to the cherry industry throughout his career,” Korson said. “A person dedicated to cherry research and the advancement of science, Jim has been a visionary leader who has been instrumental in the industry.”
Flore is currently working on a project that has shown the ability to delay cherry and apple bloom by up to 10 days in the spring. In Michigan, that is music to the ears of fruit growers, who have recently experienced devastating losses due to unseasonably early warm temperatures followed by late frosts.
Flore is using a spray method, traditionally used in high-density orchards for the application of fertilizer, to apply a fine mist of water on the trees. The water cools the tree buds, slowing growth and development. Flore said the practice could theoretically provide the water necessary for cooling with a tiny fraction of the amounts used by a conventional sprinkler.
Flore was born in Benton Harbor and raised on a fruit and vegetable farm in Bainbridge, Michigan. His parents were progressive farmers who produced 17 crops, including sweet and tart cherries. They were early adopters of frost irrigation for strawberries and grapes and the mechanical harvest of cherries (Friday limb shaker in 1964). His father was also instrumental in the early organization of growers through Great Lakes Cherry.