Farmer: Freezing temperatures could increase produce prices this summer

Winter-like temperatures are taking a toll on local Maryland farmers. While they’re counting on a farm full of crops, they're instead getting yet another layer of snow.

Brad’s Produce in Harford County is open for the season—really no surprise since it’s mid-April. But it’s the crops that are actually in season that are making workers uneasy.

"This has been covered since last year. The strawberries are planted in September, so it's been covered all winter,” said Karin Milton, as she pointed to a strawberry field covered by a large, white tarp. Milton is a co-owner of the farm.

With the freezing temperatures, the entire strawberry field is still blanketed with the tarp.  For Milton, it’s a never ending winter.

She says this time last year, things were different.

"They would've been uncovered during the day for sure,” she said of the strawberries. “Again, every year it's a little different. There may have been a day or two where they were covered again in the evening, but they were definitely uncovered as the temperatures allowed it."

She says when temperatures are warm enough, like last weekend, crews work double time to get the plants ready. But it’s not just the strawberries; by mid-April, Milton says asparagus, spinach, lettuce, spring onions, and radishes should all be sprouting.

"We usually have a pretty good variety of what's available mid-April,” she said. Right now they have nothing.

The only thing on track are the tomatoes.

"This is pretty normal because again we can heat this, so we can control the temperature in here. We've just had to heat it longer and higher than we typically would this time of year,” she said.

Milton says they’ve heated the greenhouse 50 percent more this year than last. That cost, added with the manpower to get the crops ready in the cold, could trickle down to produce prices this summer. Milton says so far, they have not determined if and how much their produce prices will increase.

Brad’s Produce is a part of a CSA Crop Share. The first day for their spring share is April 17, but instead of fresh fruits and veggies, they handed out gift certificates. With cold temperatures, none of their crops are ready.

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