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.
St. Lawrence County may be losing population, but there's one group that keeps growing: Old Order Amish. They've moved to northern New York because of cheap, available farmland. But in order to maintain their lifestyle, the Amish need a market for the milk the produce. So they've turned to an unlikely partner: dairy co-op Agri-Mark.
Drive down some roads in the county, and it’s like stepping back in time. Traffic comes from buggies, not cars. Children in dark clothes and straw hats and bonnets play in neatly kept farm yards.
Farmer John Peck has a moment with a two-month-old calf in his dairy barn.
Agriculture is one of the most dynamic and innovative economic sectors in New York state. All this week, the Innovation Trail team is reporting on some of the current challenges and opportunities facing upstate farmers.
One of those challenges is property taxes. Agriculture is a land-intensive industry, so rising property taxes can mean much higher costs for farmers. And taxes have been rising, thanks mostly to increases in the production value of farmland.
Since 2006, honey bees have been abandoning seemingly healthy hives in large numbers, raising alarm among beekeepers, farmers and researchers. But, the industries that are dependent on honey bees are finding ways to manage the losses.
New York is the second biggest apple producing state in the country. But, last year production dropped dramatically due to a warmer winter, early blooms, and harsh spring frosts. The total production from the state plummeted from 1.2 million pounds in 2011, to just 710,000 pounds in 2012. But, weather isn’t the only challenge growers are contending with.
A coalition of farmers and foodies are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban hydraulic fracturing in New York state right away. Groups across the state are expected to meet throughout the week to alert the public to the risks they believe fracking poses to the state’s agricultural viability.
New York Senator Charles Schumer called on the House of Representatives to pass a provision of the farm bill that he says would allow more grants and loans for more than 60 rural upstate New York communities.