In the United States, the term Fruit Belt is used to refer to regions where significant quantities of fruits are grown. The areas are considered to be extremely conducive for fruit growing due to the development of microclimates. In some areas, fruit belts and snow belts overlap as the factors that lead to the formation of their microclimates are similar. Some of the most critical fruit belts in the US are located around the Great Lakes regions including Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania.
The Fruit Ridge
One of the significant fruit belts of the US is the Fruit Ridge which is situated in the state of Michigan and covers an area of roughly 158 square miles. It is considered one of the leading agricultural regions in the world because of certain features such as its fertile soils and its elevation. The soils in the fruit ridge are a mixture of clay and loam, and they can retain significant quantities of water. The fruit ridge is also conducive to growing fruits since it is close to Lake Michigan which creates a microclimate that is conducive to fruit growing. Apples are some of the most important fruits grown in the fruit ridge and in 2006, the region contributed more than 60% of the apples grown in the Michigan area. The most significant problem facing fruit growers in the fruit ridge area is the codling moth which has proven to be resistant to several types of insecticides. In 2005, several organizations partnered with local apple farmers to develop a method to control the pest.
Lake Erie Fruit Belt
Another primary fruit belt in the US is the Lake Erie Fruit Belt which is mainly situated in the state of Pennsylvania but also covers other states such as New York. The area where the Lake Erie fruit belt is situated was previously covered with glaciers which created soils that are favorable for growing fruits. Another factor that makes the Lake Erie region conducive to fruit growing is the climate which is significantly influenced by the lake. On the windward side of the lake, where the fruit belt is situated, a microclimate has been created that dramatically favors the growing of fruits. Research has shown that the areas around the lake receive at least 7 inches of less precipitation and also has less frost than other areas within the state. The most common fruit grown in the Lake Erie region was grapes. By 1930, more than 80% of Pennsylvania's vines were grown within the fruit belt, and in subsequent years, the number of grape vines in the region increased significantly until 1950, when more than 90% of the grape vines were situated within the fruit belt. During the 1950s, most of the grape farmers in the region relied heavily on chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides to increase their yields. Most of the grapes produced in the region were used to make jellies and soft drinks.
The Economic Significance of Fruit Belts
The Fruit Belt is an important region as because it has the potential to increase the number of fruits that a country produces significantly. Increasing the number of fruits a region produces would significantly raise the living standards of the residents.