As the summer begins to take a turn toward fall, Ohio farmers’ annual autumn harvest looms in the distance; with the year’s odd start to the growing season the question remains:
What affect did the summer’s weather disparity have on the area’s crop production?
The answer depends on whom you ask.
According to the National Weather Service, the month of June of was the area’s eighth wettest on record, netting 7.44 inches of rain. The unusually wet first month of summer gave farmers an unexpected set of water related problems.
“A lot of my stuff went in late this year,” said Bare Paws Farms owner Sara Milicia “The rain was beneficial at first, but it caused some nutrient leaking and a fungus outbreak that comes with increased moisture.”
The Farm on Kenyon Road owner, Christine Laymon also echoed that sentiment stating the rain hindered her early season planting.
Along with the soggy start for some, June’s weather proved to make necessary field work a bit of a challenge.
“When the ground becomes so saturated it is difficult to work,” she said “There are often problems with your seeds rotting before they can even germinate.”
“Once it started raining our corn and soybeans struggled,” said Nathan Hickerson owner of Hickerson Farms. “We had to hire out a helicopter to spray 120-acres of our corn because we couldn’t get to it due to the rain. Everything is mostly doing fine now, but it hurt this year’s wheat quality bad.”
Another potential issue that may result from the increased rainfall, is a common white mold that plagues soybean crops following a wetter growing season.
“We are expecting a higher than usual white mold on the soybeans,” said Hickerson. “We won’t know for a bit yet because it doesn’t usually show up until late august or early September. If we do have it, it brings a yield reduction.”
With the yearly unpredictable rainfall, area farmers have enlisted some alternative methods to combat excessive ground saturation.
Among the solutions to Central Ohio’s frequent flooding problem, is a raised bed growing system, which raises crops several feet above ground level. The hope is that produce grown at an increased height will not be subjected to a ground water overabundance.
“The rain didn’t affect us too much this year,” said Milicia. “We put in a raised bed growing system that keeps our crops above ground level, which really has helped.”
Raised beds typically have better drainage explains Joan Richmond owner of Meadow Rise Farm. “Our elevated beds and our hillside layout have helped us continue our market sales and CSA deliveries without interruption (even with the increased rain).”
Since June’s wet weeks, farmers have seen a decrease in rain, and according to the National Weather Service the area has received just 1.22 inches after July 4. Along with the rain hiatus there have been 26 days with recorded sun.
Our crops are all doing well now, everything is befitting from the sunshine stated Laymon.
Hickerson also agreed and believed we will see an earlier than normal corn harvest despite the slow start to the growing season.
“It’s Ohio we have to expect unusual weather,” said Hickerson. “But if we can get about an inch of rain a week with clear sunshine for the rest of the season that would be great.”
The Bellville Farmer’s Market takes place every Saturday through October and runs from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. In addition to the market, Meadow Rise, The Farm on Kenyon Road and Bare Paws Farms each have an available Community Supported Agriculture program. Visit their respective Facebook pages for more information.
Reach Jones on Twitter @Bellville_Jones or via email at email@example.com