Hard frosts end slow, inconsistent summer growing season - KOTA Territory News

Hard frosts end slow, inconsistent summer growing season

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Ask people in KOTA Territory to describe this summer, and two words will undoubtedly come up every time: hot and dry.
 
Now as colder weather descends on the area, local produce growers are left without anything that even resembles a good growing season.

"It's been a tough year," said Ben Schamber of Box Elder Saturday morning at the Black Hills Farmers Market in Rapid City's Founders Park.

The summer's severe drought forced Schamber to pump water from his well to his crops eight to 12 hours a day.
 
"If I couldn't have pumped water like that," he said, "I couldn't have raised anything. It would have been dust all summer long."
 
Even with that moisture, though, Schamber's plants didn't do what we wanted them to.
 
"My tomatoes didn't do anything until August when it cooled off before they started setting on," he said. "Normally I'm selling tomatoes in August."
 
And with hard frosts already beating down anything that's still trying to grow, the season's pretty much over.

But not everyone here at the farmers market struggled quite as much as Schamber over the hot, dry summer months.
 
"I'm actually an indoor grower," said Mark Scholl of Pukwana, S.D. "I have greenhouses."
 
Scholl said he still battles things like bugs right along with outdoor growers, but with a bit more control over the climate, he "can get a more uniform product."
 
It also means his growing season is far from over.
 
"I'll produce tomatoes until the end of November," he said, "and lettuce year-round."
 
But despite his helpful ability to keep his veggies from freezing, Scholl won't be the only one selling his goods at the farmers market by the end of October, when it closes down for the season.
 
"I've still got potatoes in the ground, beets in the ground, carrots in the ground, turnips in the ground, radishes in the ground," said Schamber. "I still got some stuff coming along."

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