A couple of weeks ago, New Jersey farmers were hoping the weather would warm up and dry out by the beginning of April so the spring growing season could get under way.

With some parts of the Garden State getting more than half a foot of snow Monday, and the entire state expecting rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, most farmers are stuck in a holding pattern.

New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher said some farms in southern parts of the state that are at a higher elevation with very good drainage may be starting to plant a few crops in the fields, but for the most part it’s a no-go.

“All the farmers are chomping at the bit, just waiting to get out into the fields across our great state," he said.

He said all of the cold wet weather caused more than a little bit of frustration.

“They’re ready, they’ve lined up their seed and their suppliers for inputs and now it’s just a matter of ready, set — we’re ready and set — we’re just waiting for the go," Fisher said.

Fisher said as soon as the weather improves “you can pretty much assure yourself there will be almost like an army planting our fields everywhere.”

Kurt Alstede of Alstede Farms in Chester said he likes to have early sweet corn planted the first week of April if possible. But "that of course hasn’t happened," he said. Peas are an early-season crop, and thereare no peas planted either.

“We would love to have our onions planted by now. They’re not planted. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, all these cool weather crops could be in the ground now and nothing is done," Alstede said.

He pointed out that may cause a bit of a delay in the availability of some vegetables and fruits, but “warm weather can make things move very quickly still, and as much as we’re getting a late start, it’s still very possible for consumers to see very little impact.”

Alstede added when it finally does dry out, there’s going to be so much that needs to be planted in such a short period of time it makes for a tremendous amount of work.

Fisher agreed, but he said ultimately, “it’s Mother Nature."

"We’ve had other springs like this. Our produce will only be a bit behind schedule if things dry out in the next few weeks,” he said.

He said while everybody would like the weather to warm up and dry out, at least we haven’t gone from cold wintry weather to a big warm up and then back to cold again —because under that type of scenario, many crops, and especially fruit trees, can get damaged.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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