When spring blooms early, business booms for local plant growers and lawn mowers.
Jennifer Smith, the horticulture extension agent for K-State Research and Extension in Douglas County, said trees are blossoming two to three weeks ahead of when they normally do.
“It’s because of the temperatures,” Smith said.
Others have take notice of the early arrival as well.
“It’s not just the apples blooming; everything is blooming,” said David Vertacnik, who has an orchard east of Lawrence. “The magnolia trees, forsythia, everything is beautiful. How can you argue with that?”
This is the earliest that Low Maintenance Landscape owner Ryan Domnick has seen spring arrive.
“I would say the latest you see this kind of growth is middle of April or late April,” Domnick said. “So we are far above average.”
Frank Male, production manager and co-owner of Lawrence Landscape, pointed to the high temperatures late last week.
“Those two 80-degree days in a row kind of opened everything up,” he said.
The warm weather means the company is mowing lawns several weeks before it normally would. And, Male said, they’ve had strong sales call all winter long as people stayed outdoors and noticed improvements that could be made.
“We need two nice weekends in a row. On the first nice weekend, people get excited and go biking and hiking. On the second nice weekend, they stand in their yard and go, ‘You, know dear ... ,’” Male said.
People called wanting pools installed, expanded outdoor living areas and updated landscaping, Male said.
With the early spring came an early opening at Howard Pine’s Garden Center. Store manager Guy Walton said the store typically doesn’t open until about March 5, but this year the warm weather had it open on Feb. 20.
“There’s a lot of early spring planting that people can do in vegetable gardens. So we went ahead and opened early,” Walton said. “We’ve had some fairly busy days.”
This is a great time of year for planting cold crops such as cabbage, brussels sprouts, onions and spinach, Walton said. But even with the warm weather, Walton said some plants still have to wait.
“We had folks looking for tomato plants yesterday,” Walton said. “I told them it’s way too early.”
The early blooms and beautiful weather could have one serious drawback for fruit growers like Vertacnik. A late-season frost could be devastating to trees that have already bloomed, especially for less hardy species such as peaches.
Domnick pointed to 2007, when a deep freeze over the Easter weekend damaged 25 percent of the plants in his nursery.
“It was an educational experience on what can handle freezes and what can’t,” he said. “There isn’t a lot you can do on a large scale.”
Vertacnik acknowledges the risk of cold weather. But after last year’s dismal crop, he is choosing to stay optimistic about the early spring.
“I think with the weather trends, things look good,” he said.