Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

February 8, 2013

DIRT ON GARDENING: Will spring arrive early? Maybe yes, maybe no

According to Punxsutawney Phil we’re going to have an early spring, and that makes me somewhat happy. One surely wouldn’t know it from the likes of the freezing temperatures outside at this moment.

JUST RETURNING from Phoenix, Ariz., where temperatures were in the 70s when leaving, left me somewhat in shock while retrieving my snow and ice-laden vehicle in 14 degree temps in a light jacket at the airport then driving home on the U.S. 20 bypass in extremely nasty weather. (Why did I leave Arizona?).

It’s been a roller-coaster ride so far this winter with highs in the 50s and lows in the single digits with 30-degree swings in a 24-hour period. The much-too-early spring could happen again like it did last year, although I hope not — an early spring may put a smile on your face but it can render disaster to fruit and vegetable farmers.

These topsy-turvy weather patterns cause significant damage to our local fruit and vegetable industry with total destruction of fruit crops in some cases, as it did last year.  

WEATHER PATTERNS very widely in a 100-mile radius, so growers are always on the watch for freezes. Some precautionary measures are available but it’s always worrisome that it will not be enough. These fruit growers, understanding the delicate balance of temperatures from bud to maturity in different growing areas, will sometimes “help” growers that have been hurt by unusual weather circumstances by offering tons of their own crops to tide the grower over for the season. I’ve seen it happen several times over a 15-year period where the large peach farmer I frequented had to rely on this “help” from a grower farther north whose crops were not affected. Thank goodness for this cooperation between growers.

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