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Commercial Fruit and Vegetable Growers

St. Louis Metro East Update: Warmer winters

white flowers blooming

Much like the rest of the state, the St. Louis Metro East has been on average experiencing warmer winters, yet the coming spring to date hasn’t been following suite.  I’ve noticed the bloom date of snowdrops (winter bloomer) seems to mirror this winter warming trend.  For example, 2018-19 was a relatively cold winter, and as such, snowdrops didn’t bloom until March 15 in 2019.  Yet even with the pre-Christmas cold snap in 2022, the 2022-23 winter was relatively warm…so warm, that those same snowbells were already in bloom on January 23…that’s a full seven weeks earlier than 2019.  Unfortunately, the bloom date of snowbells doesn’t predict how warm spring will be.  Case in point, St Clair County experienced a 2023 spring freeze relatively late on April 24, and temperatures stayed mild throughout spring to make it one of the best strawberry seasons in recent years…meaning it was on the cool side. This year, the snowbells were in bloom on February 8, so without looking I pretty much can guess that December and especially January were not as warm this year compared to last year, but definitely still a full month ahead of 2019.

Soil temps are into the 40s at the 4” depth both bare ground and under sod, so strawberry growers are raking straw from matted row strawberries showing signs of growth.  Row covers are coming off plasticulture strawberry sections that need to slow growth but kept on a bit longer on sections intended for earlier fruiting.  High tunnels have already or are being prepped for early planting and/or transplant production.  Horseradish harvest was delayed a bit due to frozen soil and rain but has since moved forward.

Save the date! 

From Food to Flowers: Everything Local Conference is moving to a new venue and a later date in 2025.  Mark your calendars now for January 29 – 31 at the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield, IL, and look for further details to come later this year.