The cold continues with a chance of snow in the forecast. So, what does that mean for local farmers and their growing season?
It’s no secret that it has been a slow start to the growing season. And, of course, weather is to blame. Mid-March is when local farms really get their growing season going. Mason Farms typically plants their corn and peas; it’s also when they get work started for their grapes and strawberries.
This March, however, Mother Nature wasn’t really on board with their agenda.
One of JET 24’s Meterologists, Tom DeVecchio, says, “Well, March was almost four degrees below normal. Farmers don’t like a cold March and this one was exceptionally cold”.
Erie also experienced record snowfall in March.
John Mason, Owner of Mason Farms, says, “We haven’t planted a thing yet… I think we’re running about two weeks behind just because of the weather.”
And, it’s not just produce getting pushed back. Mason says nurseries are behind, as far as digging shrubs and trees.
Anxious to get the growing season started, Mason is crossing his fingers and making a plan. If the snow holds off, next week Mason Farms will be hitting the fields. Underneath all of the hay is where the strawberries have been hidden; waiting for that warmer weather to hit.
And, John says, “Right now, we’ve usually got cover on our strawberries for our early strawberries… We haven’t got that done yet because there’s still snow on them, which we couldn’t cover.”
Mason says that at this point, strawberry season is already pushed back a week. It could be longer depending on the upcoming weather. “If we come up with 70 degree days for a month and a half… we’ll have strawberries on time… if we don’t then they’re probably going to be pushed back.”
Unfortunately for Mason and other local farmers, DiVecchio says that dream weather probably isn’t coming. “April, unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t look too kind to the farmers. We’re looking at some colder temperatures once again. Even the most optimistic models are calling for a colder-than-normal month for April.”
April is also calling for above-average rainfall, not a good sign for farmers. But, despite the grim forecast, Mason asks consumers to bear with them. They’ll make sure they have product. It just may take a little bit longer this year. “I have a feeling when the sunshine does come, you’re going to see us running about 200 miles an hour.”