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Farmers anxiously awaiting warmer weather so they can plant their crops

Updated: Saturday, March 8 2014, 08:21 PM CST
Reported by Jesse Knutson:

HARRISBURG -- The harsh winter with record cold temperatures and a lot of snowfall has set back many farmers in the area.

This is the time of year when farmers usually start preparing for their spring crops, but when you look across farm fields, all you see is snow.

“Snow and cold, it just makes everything a little more difficult.” Michael Berkheimer said.

Berkheimer and his family grow corn and wheat when the ground isn’t covered in snow, and they also raise cows and produce milk all year long.

When it gets cold, they have to take special measures to take care of their cows.

“When it gets cold like that, you want to make sure your waters are all working, not frozen. You need to make sure the cows get enough feed into them, with pretty high energy, because it takes energy to get them warm.” Berkheimer said.

When it comes to the crops, farmers need to be able to reach the soil before laying fertilizer and planting any crops.

“We’re going to have to wait until this snow all melts and the frost gets out and the ground gets solid enough to get on.” Berkheimer said.

Even though the snow is setting farmers back a few weeks, they expect to have a full crop, and in the long run, the extra snow this year could actually help farmers by bringing extra nutrients into the soil.

“It’s definitely going to give us moisture,” Berkheimer said. “That’s important to start out in the spring with plenty.”

People who work directly with local farmers, like Harvest at Broad Street Market, say the freezing temperatures have caused problems for many local farmers.

“With the freezing temperatures, a lot of irrigation systems are freezing up.” Ashlee Shelton Dugan, an employee of Harvest at Broad Street Market, said.

In Duncannon, Perry County, farmers are trying to bypass the cold by growing crops in greenhouses, and moving forward, many are improvising to get ready for spring.

“All the farmers that I know in Central Pennsylvania are some of the most creative, dynamic, hard-working people I have ever met.” Dugan said. “I have all the confidence in the world that they’ll make the best of this.”

Farmers are hoping that warm temperatures will come sooner rather than later so they can start planting their crops. 

Farmers anxiously awaiting warmer weather so they can plant their crops

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