It was so dry that
With no measurable precipitation from the end of April to about three weeks ago, farmers have been heavily irrigating their crops. Although many farmers said this season has been stressful in terms of labor and irrigation costs, they have found that the harvest and the yields were good.
At McCollum Orchards,
"We have ... four-and-a-half acres, and we were able to (irrigate) all of our crops," she said. "The challenges lied with the water and choosing what crops would get the most and what crops we would cut off."
In addition to the crops, Woodbridge said she had to make sure that her crew stayed hydrated in the hot and humid weather.
Although McCollum Orchards will be facing a much higher water bill than anticipated, the harvest has been bountiful, according to Woodbridge. This year, the orchard has had a "phenomenal" winter squash season. In addition, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onions and potatoes have been growing in abundance as well. With the rain the past three weeks, the leafy vegetables have been improving, making for good yields of broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage.
For the fall season, there will be an abundance of squash -- including butternut, acorn, delicata, summer and trombocino. The apples have also been growing well and are expected to look good this year.
"There have been a lot of pluses and minuses, but we've learned that abnormal weather is normal for this area and we just have to plan for everything and kind of roll with it," Woodbridge said.
"Everyone knows that it's been dry," Bittner said. "We missed rains and as a result we had to irrigate all of our fruit."
"Sweet cherries don't like getting wet, so the quality was excellent this year," Bittner said.
In addition to the cherries, he saw a full crop of peaches, pears, prunes and other fruits that he sells to markets such as Wegmans and Dash's.
Bittner is hoping that September brings more rain to help the apples grow bigger before the harvest.
With the federal disaster designation, local farmers are eligible to be considered for assistance, including emergency loans. However, many farmers don't attempt to apply for these services because they are too difficult to get, according to Bittner, who is president of
Bittner said he and many other farmers have found that it's much simpler for them to carry crop insurance.
"For the past 15 years, farmers were encouraged to buy crop insurance," he said. "The idea was to be covered by insurance instead of coming up with disaster plans."
Although crop farmers often don't see the need to apply for disaster relief, some programs are helpful to those with livestock, such as the livestock feed program that allows farmers to get assistance paying for feed and water bills.
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