Farmers: What are they up to?

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Colorado is deep into the throes of winter weather. While snow-filled fields aren’t conducive to growing produce, our farmers stay busy. For some, this is an ideal time to take vacations, spend time with family, or take advantage of the Colorado winter and hit the slopes.

For all of them, this is a critical time to gear up for a new year. After a few cozy days next to a fireplace with a big stack of seed catalogs, it’s time to start fresh for a new year. This is the time to take inventory, fine-tune planting timelines and crop rotations, pick up that shiny new (or burnished old) tractor and repair all that is broken after a long harvest season.

When the winter planning and purchasing is done, actual planting starts as early as the end of February for some heartier crops such as onions and leeks. Growers are jump-starting warm-weather crops as tiny seedlings in greenhouses during mid-to-late March. By May, greenhouses are busting at the seams with young seedlings that are ready for the fields.

Of course, we’re talking about May in Colorado here; this month isn’t your sun-kissed Mediterranean spring. On a consistent basis, May in Colorado is a difficult month for predicting weather patterns. On a lucky year, with gradually-warming temperatures and no late, harsh freezes, the farmers that choose to plant early have the advantage of a jump-start on a long harvest season. During a year with more moderate May temperatures, even one late-evening freeze can be enough to undo months of greenhouse work and transplanting.

There are plenty of people out there with riskier professions than our farmers: professional roulette players, stunt pilots – well, you get the picture. Farming in Colorado is not for the faint of heart.