Prep for the farming season

Justin Zabel, Staff Reporter

Spring has arrived, which means it’s that time of year again for locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables.

Farmers plan out their season starting at the beginning of the year. Most of the farmers order their seed for planting in late January. Some of the time, ordering the seed depends on if the company the farmers order it through has it in stock. A majority of the time these companies do.

“A lot of them have greenhouses and wind tunnels to start things before it’s time to plant outside,” the Manager of the Ellensburg Farmers Market, Colin Lamb, said. 

How do farmers know it is time to move their crops outside? Many times it depends on the weather, but usually spring rolls around in April and people begin to plant their crops.

Kassidy Malcolm

“Spring moves north 30 miles a day. It’s time to plant in Sunnyside, then the next day or so, it’s time to plant in Yakima, and a day or so after that, it’ll be time to plant in Ellensburg,” Lamb said. “We’re not supposed to plant here till May 1 which always seems too late and people plant in April and then it snows in April.”

Once the final winter storm passes through, farmers are ready to begin bringing their crops outdoors and get them planted and prepared to grow fully. However, there are plants that have already grown in the greenhouse to be shared with others.

“When market opens up on May 1, we’ll have a lot of leafy greens and onion and potatoes from last year and stuff. And we will start seeing the crops we’re used to starting in June and July. The berries usually show up at the end of May,” Lamb said. “Orchard crops and stoned fruits show up in July. Fresh potatoes happen in September and October, so there’s still fresh stuff coming through as the season progresses.”

COVID-19 has not stopped farmers from growing their crops and selling them.

Kassidy Malcolm

“As far as farmers, they don’t have to worry about getting into the market or not. I will always have room for them. It’s the crafters that are on the chopping block,” Lamb said.

Being in this pandemic, last year farmers had record sales of the products at the market. However, the sales for the 2020 farmers’ market was slightly under the 2019 sales is due to covid and the farmers’ market starting three weeks late, but it picked up an extra weekend at the end of the market year.