By WARREN DILLAWAY - firstname.lastname@example.org
Area farmers are happy with a “normal” start to the farming season after two years of extremes, said Ashtabula County Extension Agent David Marrison.
“So far we are a little bit more normal,” Marrison said of the slow, but steady warming trend with moderate rainfall.
The 2012 spring weather started with unseasonably warm temperatures followed by chilly weather which created significant damage to area fruit producers.
“A lot of oats have been planted,” Marrison said of area farmers getting out in the relatively dry weather.
He said 20 percent of the corn has been planted. He said all corn planted by May 17 would be ideal.
The lack of major fluctuation in temperature has been good for area farmers, especially fruit producers, Marrison said.
“It’s been a nice gradual warm-up,” he said.
Marrison said the chilly temperatures expected this weekend could provide a problem for fruit growers. He said people planting at home should make sure they cover their plants during freeze warnings.
Apple farmers and other fruit growers are crossing their fingers as late freezes have damaged crops three years in a row, Marrison said.
Once the soil warms area vegetable growers will be kicking in to high gear and providing food for a variety of farmers markets and restaurants throughout the region, Marrison said.
“We have people going in to Cleveland (farm markets),” Marrison said.
He said there has been a growth in area restaurants and those in surrounding counties seeking locally grown produce. “They are all doing pretty good,” he said of the niche market.