Columbiana farmer gets head start on spring planting

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It's the earliest Catalpa Grove Farms has ever planted

COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – Last week, we were talking about temperatures in the 70s, even the 80s. Overall, spring temperatures have been on the warm side. For farmers, that meant early planting.

“We started here on the 22nd of March. The thing we planted was sweet corn,” said Craig Mercer, owner of Catalpa Grove Farms.

That’s the earliest the farm has ever planted their sweet corn. The reason? The weather was just right.

“We always try to hit the market for the Fourth of July. That’s the big market for sweet corn for us. It’s been dry for this time of year and the soil conditions were good to go. The temperatures were good so we decided we’d take a chance on it,” Mercer said.

Taking a chance it is. Sweet corn doesn’t like the cold temperatures, and if a frost comes before the seeds germinate, it would mean the crop is done.

“You could replant it. The only thing is there is the cost,” Mercer said.

But they’re prepared. Mercer said they have plastic over the newly sprouted corn, which acts as its own greenhouse.

“Eventually, we will have to take this plastic off once the corn gets up pushing against it real hard.”

The irrigation system is already set up in the strawberries.

“We’re lucky enough to have strawberries. We irrigate for frost control. We have enough pipe we will put out here, and we’ll irrigate the sweet corn if we have to,” Mercer said.

The strawberries will be ready by June as long as they closely watch the weather situation and use that irrigation system. Mercer points to the pollen sitting on the green center of a strawberry. If that changes, it means trouble.

“If it would be black or brown, then we know it’s been killed by frost. We usually know by the middle of the day the next afternoon if it’s been killed or not,” Mercer said.

The first three to four acres of sweet corn they’ve planted should be ready for cooking just in time for Fourth of July cookouts.

“If we have a warm June, it’ll make it Fourth of July no problem. If we get in a situation with cooler weather in June, it’ll slow down some,” Mercer said.

The farm will plant sweet corn up until the middle of July, and their last harvest should be around the middle of October.

Over the last few years, the growing season has been longer because of warmer temperatures in the spring and fall.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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