UNDATED (WFRV) The burning barrels placed throughout Apple Valley Orchard near De Pere were still smoking this morning. They helped scatter smoke and heat over 23-acres of apple trees to protect them from below-freezing temperatures overnight. An effort that started about five-hours earlier than past cold spells.
"Last night we started at 11:30 and we had to keep these barrels fed all night long," said owner Jerry Van Elzen.
The smoke and heat kept orchard temperatures between 29 and 34-degrees and protected full pink buds that are close to blooming. But that also require more fuel.
"I had enough wood here I figured to last me a long time. And we ate up probably three-quarters of it last night," said Van Elzen.
Parallel 44 Winery near Stangelville had to gas up it's recently purchased Cold Air fan twice last night. That drew warm air out of the atmosphere and gave added protection to Lake Michigan's role in preventing early budding.
"So far, it hasn't affected us because we have the lake about six-miles away. And that kind of tempered it a little bit. So we don't have the bloom and leaf showing already," said winery co-owner Carl Johnson.
It maybe 24-hours at least before Jerry Van Elzen knows what was saved and what was lost. But after last night's efforts, he's confident of one thing.
"We're still going to have apples. We saved three-quarters of the orchard. That I know for a fact." he said.
Local 5's Terry Kovarik has the story.