Wet weather straining farmers, but season not a washout yet

Jul 9, 2013

Brian Reeves is plucking dead leaves off of pepper plants on his farm in Baldwinsville.

"If it keeps up, they will lose more and more leaves and you come back here in two weeks and it's like a stem with no leaves," he says. "It's just gone."

Low-lying spots in his fields are wetter than they should be with large puddles collecting in some areas. Crops trying to grow in those areas are showing signs of too much moisture - like dead leaves and disease.

It's a result of the wetter-than-average summer so far in upstate New York.

"If this just kept up and kept up, this could end up being a really lousy piece of peppers," Reeves says.

But so far, his crop isn't a total loss.

"Right now it looks pretty good, except for a few spots. I’ve seen years like this before and then all of the sudden, whatever date, it turns around and it’s sunny and nice and you pick a nice crop of peppers," he adds.

Growers are having a tough time getting early season crops to farmers markets, reports the Farmers Market Federation of New York. Yield on green beans and peas are low this year, says executive director Diane Eggert.

The hot, wet weather is also keeping customers away.

"Farmers are suffering losses in that respect as well, so it’s kind of a double hit," she says.

Farms in the Mohawk Valley, where flooding and heavy rains have been the worst, are in worse shape, but the Farm Bureau reports tough conditions throughout the state.

"Any prolonged weather situation," says Reeves, "I don’t care if it’s prolonged wet, prolonged dry, prolonged cold, puts a stress on everything you’re growing."