Long winter could have effect on plant prices - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Long winter could have effect on plant prices

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - If all the snow talk has got you down, the cure may just be a taste of the tropics. WQOW News 18 took a short trip, to a local greenhouse, as they prep for the planting season.

Chippewa Valley Growers Seasonal Employee, Lisa Blake, says, "This winter has been very difficult, very trying, with all the snow and driving and getting back and forth to work.

Imagine a place that would melt all those bitter cold memories away. "This is like Hawaii when the sun shines, even on a day like today. I mean, we're in short sleeved shirts," says Dean Carstensen, a Co-Owner of Chippewa Valley Growers.  

A small tropical island exists amid the snow drifts that the winter without end has left behind. And that keeps employees at Chippewa Valley Growers in good spirits. 

"The people that help us out, they really appreciate that, they get sun tans even a little bit during this time of year," says Carstensen.  

Blake says, "For me, spring starts really early, coming to work every day, I love it. I love coming into the sunshine the humidity, the warmth. That's the best part about coming to work here."

But, at a hot and humid 75 degrees, even a greenhouse can't escape the effects of what feels like an eternal winter.

Carstensen says, "The cold temperatures now really cause us problems because we're into a back greenhouse, we've got to transport outside for about 100 feet in the outside temperatures and it's been a few rough days here. So, we've been wrapping our carts and putting plastic around them and insulation actually to get them out to those back greenhouses. It's a lot of extra labor."

And, it takes a lot of natural gas to keep the heat up. 

"We doubled what we normally use in a day, last night and that's bad," laughs Carstensen. He says on average it costs about $15,000 dollars a year to heat the greenhouses.

"If it's higher we have to raise our prices. That's why we kind of know what we're going to charge but we have to wait until the end of spring to get the exact amounts," says Carstensen. 

And while you may not be enjoying the glacial warm-up, the plants are. Carstensen say, "For the plants, cool weather is better than too hot. Hot weather like we had last spring was hard on the plants because they grow too fast, they get stretched, and you have poor quality plants."

We are still a few months away from the planting season. To get ready, Chippewa Valley Growers says the best thing to do is prep your lawn. That is, when the snow melts and you can see the grass again.

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