Michigan State University horticulture professor Jim Flore gladly accepted and quickly donned the official red sports jacket as he was honored as Cherry Industry Person of the Year during the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan.
Flore received the honor at MSU’s Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center, where public tours are conducted in coordination with the National Cherry Festival.
Presented by the Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI), the award is given each year to individuals who have shown exemplary support for the tart cherry industry.
Phil Korson, CMI executive director, said Flore has helped cherry growers remain on the cutting edge while also encouraging sustainable growing practices.
“A person dedicated to cherry research and the advancement of science, Jim has been a visionary leader who has been instrumental in the industry,” he said.
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.
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 periodically suffer devastating losses due to unseasonably early warm temperatures followed by late frosts.
Flore is using a spray system to apply a fine mist of water to the trees. The evaporating water cools the tree buds, slowing growth and development.
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, using the Friday limb shaker in 1964.
Read the original press release from Michigan State University.