Cold, Damp Spring Slows Planting Season

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If the wet, cold spring has taken a toll on you, it’s likely been worse for farmers who are eager to get their crops planted.

“Too much rain,” said Melissa Monty-Provost. “We’d like to have planted a week and a half ago for our pumpkins.”

The uncharacteristically chilly, damp spring has set farmers back when it comes to planting. It’s a yearly process they count on to happen on schedule to set them up for harvest in the fall.

“The general public by September doesn’t remember that we had a really wet spring,” said Monty-Provost.

Monty-Provost and George Weidle own Country Dreams Farm in Plattsburgh.

They say they should have seeds for their corn and more than 6,000 pumpkins already planted.

“Seeds like a soil temperature of about 70 degrees to germinate. So if it’s cold and it’s damp, they just won’t germinate. So they’ll just sit there and rot or delay germination,” said Monty-Provost.

Country Dreams Farm is home to a corn maze in the fall so the farmers typically like to have their corn crop planted by now. It seems the fields may finally be ready for planting.

“I’m surprised how nice that is drying up out here. The soil is really looking nice. This is perfect for planting,” said Monty-Provost with her fingers in the dirt.

“We are behind on temperature this spring. We’re way, way ahead on precipitation,” said Dr. Kitty O’Neil, a field crops and soil specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension. “The corn crop going in late means that now we’re risking the corn not being mature at the end of the season when it’s time to harvest and early frost is a bigger risk now than if we had had corn planted on time.”

Dr. O’Neil travels all over the North Country as a field crops and soil specialist.

She says farmers are about 50-60% finished planting their corn.

“50-60% is way below average for New York state at this point,” said Dr. O’Neil.

The fear is that late planting will lead to immature, less nutritional corn at harvest time.

“It’ll still be cut for feed but it won’t yield milk production and growth of animals the way it normally will. The same with this last first cutting of hay. It’s gone past the peak nutritional quality so it won’t result in animal performance, milk production,” said Dr. O’Neil.
She says the hay has nutritionally peaked before the field was dry enough for farmers to go out and cut it.

It’s another financial stressor for farmers dealing with low milk and beef prices.

“Milk prices have been low for a couple of years now which is putting a lot of financial stress on a lot of farms,” said Dr. O’Neil. “Farms will go out of business. Farms will go under.”

According to a spokesperson from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Green Mountain state farmers are 3-4 weeks behind due to the wet weather.

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