State Round Up

Traverse City: Unidentified disease killing N. Mich. apple trees
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — An unidentified blight is being blamed in the deaths of some apple trees in northern Michigan and agricultural researchers are working to determine what is to blame for the disease.

The disease has killed some McIntosh apple trees grown from dwarf rootstock, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported Saturday.

Nikki Rothwell, head of the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station in Leelanau County, said the problem also is being reported at some McIntosh orchards in western Michigan and in New York state.

“We’re seeing tons of decline,” Rothwell said.

The disease has been identified in four McIntosh varieties, Rothwell said.

Farmers plant trees from dwarf rootstocks because they grow smaller than standard trees. It’s easier for pickers to harvest apples and the smaller size allows trees to be planted closer together.

“We have quite a few dying on us,” said David White of Interwater Farm in Williamsburg.

The disease has affected about 20 percent of his McIntosh crop, or about 3 percent of his total harvest. His other apple varieties aren’t affected, but he worries that it might spread to other trees.

Steve Kalchik of SVF Inc. farm in Northport said he has seen “scattered” attacks of the disease in “Linda Mac” McIntosh apples. He said researchers took a chunk of one of his dead trees and are investigating possible causes.

“Some part of the orchard will have seven or eight trees in a row with it, and in other parts it’s just one tree,” Kalchik said.

Michigan and New York are among the top apple producing states. Kalchik said the disease is worrisome because McIntosh is a popular regional apple variety. He said other growers have reported problems with “Pioneer Mac” varieties.

Muskegon: Authorities say man brought shotgun to court
MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — A 35-year-old man has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon after authorities say he brought a 12-gauge shotgun in his vehicle to the Muskegon County courthouse.

Brian Keith Bailey of Lakewood Club was arraigned Friday in 60th District Court on the felony, which is punishable by up to five years behind bars. He was being held Saturday at the Muskegon County Jail.

The jail said it had no record of whether he had a lawyer. A hearing is set for June 18.

The Muskegon Chronicle reports a family member alerted authorities that Bailey might be bringing a gun Thursday. Authorities say the weapon and three shotgun shells were found in his unlocked vehicle.

Authorities say he planned to confront someone who may have assaulted a family member.

Ann Arbor: Michigan Stadium to go smoke-free in 2010 season
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan says it will make Michigan Stadium a smoke-free zone when the 2010 football season opens this fall.

The school’s athletic department said Monday that the smoking ban will go into effect when the Wolverines host Connecticut on Sept. 4. In the past, smoking had been allowed on the concourse of the stadium.

Director of Athletics Dave Brandon says the change is going into effect ahead of when the entire campus becomes smoke-free in 2011. Smoking already was banned in the Ann Arbor stadium’s seated-bowl area.