Farmers Take A Major Hit From April Cold Spell

Wednesday, April 18th 2007, 10:14 am
By: News On 6

Some of the Oklahoma growers who supply farmer's markets were hit hard by Green Country’s late cold spell. Now, they're trying to salvage the season. News On 6 anchor Craig Day reports spring season at Three Springs Farm started out with so much promise, so much potential. Then, the temperature started dropping.

"It got down to 16 degrees here on Saturday evening, and that's really really cold at the beginning of April," said farmer Emily Oakley.

Plants in the greenhouse are ok, and some underneath a protective covering survived, but others won't.

"Broccoli and cauliflower and cabbage and beets, they took it really hard," said farmer Michael Appel.

"We even had a little bit of cold damage to onions and crops that should be a little more cold tolerant, but 16 is pretty cold," said Oakley.

Oakley and Appel say much of the spring crop they sell at the Cherry Street Farmer's Market and to more than 30 families is lost.

"We'd never seen so much vibrant growth of our crops so early in the season, and the crops just couldn't handle such a drastic change in temperature," said Appel.

The loss adds up to 25% of the year’s overall harvest.

This has been a tough year for small, local farmers. First, the January ice storm damaged many trees. Of course, the below freezing temperatures damaged crops. The owners of Three Springs Farm were even hailed on three times while harvesting. In agriculture, you have to have optimism.

Oakley and Appel are both optimistic the summer harvest will be a good one and that they'll continue to get support from clients and customers.

"It just gives us a lot of hope that we're not out here just by ourselves, but that we have a community of people that support us, and that's really what smaller-scale farmers really need,” said Appel.

The farmers say it’s too late to replant some early spring crops because when they mature, it will be too hot for them. If the cold would have happened a couple of weeks later, their major cash crop, tomatoes, would have been affected, but most of the tomato plants are doing fine.