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Heavy Rain, Chilly Temps Killing Local Farmers’ Crops

High winds, mid to low 40’s, and 2.5 inches of rain in two days. These types of conditions could be reminiscent of normal March temperatures in Lawrence, but they’re a reality local farmers are combating in the opening days of May.

“If you see what I’m wearing right now, this isn’t a jacket. It’s a winter coat,” Pendleton’s Kaw Valley Country Market owner John Pendleton said. “The wind is problem too for the younger sapling plants.”

Pendleton has needed to be resourceful in how to combat the local weather to plant the proper buds and seeds on time. Standing water in parts of his fields could potentially throw off the schedule of an entire harvest.

“I have some areas that I was hoping to plant in the next week or two,” Pendleton said. “But there’s standing water on those parts of the fields, and it might take a month for that area to dry out.”

Farmers have adapted a few methods to protect against bad weather. One example is how Pendleton plants on three-inch tall mounds elevated from the rest of the soil to avoid the plant becoming submerged.

Another way to beat the weather is a series of Hoop Houses, which are greenhouse-like structures that enclose and shield plants from the environment. These structures can cost upwards of $4,000. Pendleton says these precautions are necessary, because too much rain can jeopardize his business.

“With the excess moisture in the soil,” Pendleton said. “It makes it pretty difficult to try to convince people that now is a good time to buy plants.”