PLATTE CITY, Mo. — Usually in early June, farmers markets are bursting with color and flavor. Not this year. In terms of Spring planting.
“Its probably been the most challenging year I remember,” Gary Oberdiek from River’s Edge Produce said.
That’s saying something because the Oberdiek family has farmed land around Platte City since the 1880’s.
“We usually have strawberries. I’m guessing we’ve lost two-thirds of our strawberry crop.”
The rows are wet and muddy, making the delicate berries susceptible to mold, rot and disease. On the other hand, the local tomatoes are beautiful. All grown in greenhouses and planted weeks before the rains set in.
Near Buckner, Missouri, Mark Frye and his family just got delayed watermelon plants in the ground on Friday. Saturday at 10 am, he got a call.
“The levee broke, and we are probably gonna lose most if not all the watermelon,” Frye said.
The crop is beneath several feet of water.
Smaller family farms that sell at the markets almost never have insurance.
“If we want to eat, we have to keep going,” Frye said.
Unfortunately, when supply falls, there’s always a chance that prices jump.
“The vendors all set their prices, so it will be a little higher I’m just guessing,” Deb Conners said, the manager of the City Market. “They have to make up for lost revenue.”
So for now, local growers will continue to come to markets and offer what they have greenhouse tomatoes, some flowers and plants. And if it dries out, they are still hoping to get sweet corn and watermelon planted, or re-planted. But peak harvest time on many of those crops will push into late August or even September.
The life of a farmer is hard. Experience has taught the growers that they can’t fight the weather. So they’ll do what generations of farmers before them have done when things go wrong.
“You just keep on keeping on,” Frye said.
In the meantime, he will keep returning to the market with a truckload of greenhouse tomatoes.