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AGRIBUSINESS: Farmers’ Market Shows Spring Weather Challenges

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Wet, windy weather Friday gave way to sunshine and crowds on Saturday at the first downtown Des Moines farmers' market of the year.

The weather has been swinging from warm to cold. Brandon Blue and David Geiger went downtown and talked to producers about how spring weather treated them.

Producers say getting their products ready by the 3rd of May wasn't exactly easy this year.

Persistent winter weather extended into the spring - a pronounced problem at Maxwell Farms in State Center in Story County. Greg Maxwell said his ground temperature hit 58 degrees early, so he started planting asparagus, lettuce, and peas. Then the soil temperature went back down.

He says, "This year all we have early is the asparagus, the lettuce and all that, it popped out of the ground real quick but it just isn't growing."

Cold weather continuing into the spring also created a harrowing situation for the bees.

Jennifer Soder with Soder Apiaries in St. Charles says, "Winter I think was bad for everybody, lots of cold, terrible cold, spring has been rainy and cold. I think most of the produce growers are about two weeks behind. But our bees did really well through the winter, which was a surprise, so we're happy about that. We're on the road again for another market year."

Soder said beekeepers she's spoken to had losses as high at 75 percent. While this spring, Soder Apiaries only lost 12 percent of its bees.

Even with the challenges growing lettuce and peas back in State Center, Maxwell said the first farmers' market of the year was by no means a failure.

He says, "So far I think we've sold about 500 pounds of asparagus. That's quite a bit; we brought about 700 pounds down so we'll see by the end of the day how it is."