COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – This is the busy season at Catalpa Grove Farm in Columbiana. Customers are grabbing up all the spring flowers, but across the 150 acres off Route 14, it’s a matter of keeping up with Mother Nature.
“We were ahead early. We had that really warm weather first part of April. The 80 degrees really pushed these plants,” said Craig Mercer, operator of Catlapa Farms.
But the last couple of weeks have been rainy and cooler than usual. It slowed the growing process.
“These berries, considering where they are, they’d be further along. You’d be seeing some strawberries with small green fruit on them. I really don’t see much of that right now,” Mercer said.
Growers say this is probably the most sensitive time for plants that have flower buds beginning to show. They’re the most susceptible to frost. At this stage in their growth, a hard frost can damage or even destroy a crop. To prevent that, crews stay out in the fields overnight, spraying a fine mist of water over the field to protect it.
“As long as we continue to add water here to these plants and we have the sprinklers that go around and cover them, they’ll keep right at about 32 degrees, slightly above that,” Mercer said.
Mercer said with the warmer, dry weather in the next couple of days, crews will start planting tomatoes and peppers. Other crops such as corn are already in the ground.
As for these berries, Merer said with a few more weeks of good weather, the crop should arrive by the end of this month.