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Michiana farmers thankful Mother Nature brought winter back

NILES, Mich. -

It's an odd thought that Michiana farmers are hoping for snow to help crops grow. But many across the area are thankful that the warm, spring-like weather took a turn for colder temperatures.

"A lot of people have been asking, how is the farm? How are the crops?" says Steve Lecklider.

These are questions he's been hearing quite a bit.

The manager of Lehman's Orchard is Niles has said the same thing each time.

"We're kind of relieved to see some cold weather for at least this week," he adds.

It's an adventure. 

"Every year it's kind of a gamble," jokes Lecklider.

An adventure that depends heavily on the weather, making or breaking how each crop grows.

"We grow all of the fruit from the early season with strawberries, to the late season with apples and pears," he explains.

But this year, workers are even happier to see winter weather's comeback. 

"We're hoping for another few weeks of colder weather, and then we'll be in good shape for the spring," adds Lecklider. 

Because this year, the orchard decided to expand its business to include a brewery and a new store. 

They use the extra fruit, leftovers from the "U-pick," for wines and jams. 

And adding a brewery means there will be different crops.  The orchard started growing some hops to help out with the new brewery. 

With new business ventures on the horizon, Lecklider just wants one thing: a late spring.

He, like so many others, are hoping the weather will cooperate.

"We're at the mercy of mother nature," he says.

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