Planting the seeds for growing season

Published: Feb. 3, 2020 at 3:05 PM EST
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You wouldn't think the weather would affect farmers this time of year, but even in the controlled climate of a greenhouse, sunshine is important in the winter.

And with a tough growing season fresh in their minds, area farmers are doing what they can to set up for a successful season.

"The plant's basic needs are water, soil, and light," Cindy Bench said.

If the last 12 months have taught us anything, too much or too little of any of those elements can spell trouble for farmers.

Cindy co-owns Bench Farms with her husband, Dave. Thinking back to last spring, she said, "All the farmers are praying that we don't have another year like last year. Last year was really rough. You always have a cushion so you can weather those ups and downs. This is an up-and-down business."

The Bench family farms and runs a greenhouse, so they’re working all year round. And this time of year, sunshine is very important. Last year, they battled too much water in the fields. Right now, it’s a lack of sunshine.

"If we don't have the proper sunshine, then the plants cannot get watered as often, because you're not having the evaporation," Bench said. "So, if you're not watering and feeding the plants, then they're not growing as quickly. So that can set you back, just like out in the field."

Sunshine allows for air inside the greenhouses to reach the mid-80s, perfect growing weather for the plants. But with a lot of cloudy days, those perfect conditions have been rare this winter.

"It has slowed us down a little bit," Bench said of the cloudy weather. "Plants don't root out quite as quickly. We have bottom heat on these tables, so the heat helps them germinate. But the cuttings will root out a little bit slower."

But a bigger worry for Bench is another rainy planting season.

"We're concerned because we have an open lake," Bench said, "so that means, who knows what's going to happen with our weather this year?"

Despite the cloudy weather, Bench thinks she'll be able to fill her greenhouses by the time she opens April 1.