Snowstorm delays start of growing season for South Shore

By KBJR News 1

April 17, 2014 Updated Apr 17, 2014 at 8:16 PM CDT

Last night's snow storm storm was one that left many wondering if it was the last punch of winter. With more than a foot of snow dropping on parts of the South Shore, it has farmers pushing back their growing season.

Before the snow storm, a lot of this winter's snow was melted and farmers were gearing up for planting, but Mother Nature had other plans.

"We just started this last week and just battling the elements again" said Jeff Miller of Whiter River Ag Products.

Jeff Miller of White River Ag says he was in the process of harvesting about 300 acres of corn that had to be left on the fields last fall when the latest snow storm interrupted with only 40 acres to go. Now that corn might not make it to consumers.

"It might be stuff we won't even be able to get off. It's a loss" said Miller.

And if it's not a loss, harvesting will have to be done at the same time as seeding all while battling muddy fields.
Just up the road at Great Oak Farm, vegetables that were expecting to go into the ground this week are waiting in the greenhouses for their transplant.

"These are tomatoes that should be out in the hoops, but it's way too cold" said Chris Duke of Great Oaks Farm.

But this farm is more than just tomatoes.

"Normally right now we'd be transplanting into the hoop houses lots of beets and scallions, seeding carrots and transplanting lettuce" said Duke.

It's not just the plants suffering from a delay due to snow; the animals at Great Oak Farm are also waiting for it all to melt.

After having a fresh batch of lambs farmer Chris Duke says that he's going to have to wait before these little lambs can make their way out to the fields to graze.

But there is one upside to having the spring snow.

"It was gonna be a half day today, but no school" said Chris' son, Caleb Duke.

Which means more time to spend with family and learning... in a different way.

"I help dad haul sap buckets and help him with the sheep. Like if one of them is getting cold, we bring them in the house and put it in the bath tub... warm it up" said 11-year-old Duke.

The spring snow is a big setback, but it's the attitude of a farmer that plows through to the growing season.

"That's part of being a farmer, you have to be resilient. The weather is always throwing you curveballs, so you've gotta stay on your feet" said Chris Duke.

Great Oak Farm grows organic vegetables along with other products for Lake Superior CSA and White River Ag focuses on corn, sunflowers, and other grain for local distribution.

Bryce Henry