Some farmers start crops indoors due to cold - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Some farmers start crops indoors due to cold

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CROSS PLAINS (WKOW)—Spring is kicking off with below average temperatures, making it a challenging to begin the planting season. Frost lines in the soil are between 20 and 30 inches in Dane County, according to Heidi Johnson, a crop and soil expert from UW Extension.

Crossroads Community Farm grows more than 60 types of vegetables and the owners, Mike and Cassie Noltnerwyss, don’t let Mother Nature dictate their planting season.

“For Mike and I, we start March 1,” Cassie said. “We turn on our greenhouse, so even when there's snow on the ground we're starting the onions, broccoli.”

Cassie says they do need to get those plants in the ground by the third week in April or they start to get stressed and damaged. That’s what happened last year when the ground didn’t thaw on time.

But the types of vegetables grown at Crossroads are more flexible than other crops.

“For vegetables there's a lot of things that can be planted and benefits from planting as soon as the grown is thawed,” Mike said. “That's different from other farmers with corn and soybeans. They want the ground to heat up a little bit more.”

Johnson says soil temperatures ideally will reach 50 degrees before corn crops are planted.

And the harsh winter did affect Crossroads, freezing pipes in the barn and now, the slow spring is keeping the farm’s six full-time employees waiting for their jobs.

“Our whole crew is hired and they get hours depending on the weather,” Mike said. “So early on it's kind of a touch and go situation for our workers.”

But Mike and Cassie are optimistic about the growing season. And after a decade of farming, they say they’ve learned to adapt to whatever weather comes their way.

“It’s always going to be a good year for something,” Cassie said. “It's always going to be a bad year for something else. And in the end you're just hoping it balances out. And so it helps us be a little calmer about weather. It doesn't mean we aren't stressed out when it hails or the ground just won't thaw or it just won't rain, but we get a little better at handling those stresses.”

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