Growing season ends for many Montana vegetable farmers - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Growing season ends for many Montana vegetable farmers

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The first day of fall in Montana is feeling a lot like winter with much of the state seeing colder temperatures, wind, rain and even snow.

But this sudden shift in weather means an abrupt end to the growing season for many of the state's vegetable farmers.

"The squash plants are probably going to get killed tonight," says Lindsay Jordan.

Jordan, along with her husband and three-year-old daughter, operate Brave Bear Farm in Stevensville.
It's an organic micro-farm on the outskirts of town.

"The carrots are all the way down here."

It specializes in growing a variety of veggies, fruits, and flowers.
While Jordan says that she expected the 'fruits of her labor' to stay rooted for a few more weeks, the cold weather is insisting that harvest season begins at Brave Bear Farm.

"We've been harvesting a lot of stuff to prepare for the hard frost that is coming. It's supposed to get down to freezing tonight and tomorrow night."

Dr. Bruce Maxwell, an Environmental Science Professor at Montana State University in Bozeman, says, "Generally, our growing seasons have been increasing in the state over the last 15 years and we anticipate that that will continue in general. This year was kind of an anomaly, quite frankly."

An anomaly, Dr. Maxwell says, because of the extreme weather conditions experienced across the state in recent months.

"One of the earmarks of climate change is that we've seen greater variation than we've seen in the past," Dr. Maxwell says. "And we get these extremes, where we'll get this cold flash here, following what was a very hot, dry summer."

And, in between, was a prolonged period of wildfire smoke, which reduced the light for and cultivation of plants.
And all of these factors, according to Dr. Maxwell, helped to contribute to the shorter growing season for vegetable farmers, like Jordan. 

Dr. Maxwell says that while the data from this year's crop production has not been calculated, he expects numbers to be lower this year than last.

Still, Jordan says that she will be selling for a few more weeks the rest of her ripe harvest full of tomatoes, carrots, greens and more at the Farmers' Market in Hamilton.

Afterward, you can expect to get a taste her homemade strawberry jam.

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