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September 27, 2013

Local farmers eye 'pretty good' harvest

By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — “It’s shaping up to be a reasonably good crop year,” Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County educator Paul Cerosaletti said Thursday.

With corn-harvesting season having recently gotten underway and expected to be completed in mid-October, “this is good news,” he said. While there are some exceptions, with some heavy rains earlier this year, there was the potential for the loss of nutrients in corn that farmers grow to feed livestock. It had the potential to affect hay as well, he said.

“Having driven across the state, our crops look pretty good,” he said.

This will benefit area farmers because there was a shortage of forage to feed cows because of dry conditions last year, he said. The quality of the hay is made early on, but when farmers were able to catch this year’s May window for cutting, “they were in good shape for the rest of the year,” he said.

According to the National Weather Service in Binghamton, rainfall was below the normal average in April and May but was above-average from June to August. The temperature in April was also below normal.

Overall, “I think we are pretty lucky,” Cerosaletti said. He said he hopes the weather stays nice so the harvesting season, which started on most farms about a week ago, will finish well. It is expected to completed by mid-October in the area.

Cerosaletti said he spoke with farmers at the Delaware County Fair about this year’s pumpkin crop, and there didn’t seem to be any issues. From what he has seen locally, things look okay.

The dry, cold weather earlier in the year made for an extended planting season for corn, so harvest can be a couple of weeks late, Cerosaletti said. This was first time in his 21 years at Cornell that he saw the impact of microclimates, where one area can be hit hard by rain and a farm nearby was barely affected.

This occurred in Franklin in August. Dairy farmer Danny Buel said his farm only had a few inches during those rains that brought many times more to nearby areas. The season, which began with planting in early May, went pretty well, he said. Corn was harvested last Tuesday.

With the wet weather in the spring, Buel said, he got behind on the hay a few times. The quality may not be as good but there is more volume, he said.

Some of the heavy rains may have leached some of the fertilizer out of the corn fields, but “it could have been a lot worse,” he said. With 27 acres of corn and 70 acres of hay, his cows will have enough to get through the winter, he said.

Don Smith, who also farms in Franklin, said about half the corn is on and it looks “satisfactory.” His farm was in the area that received heavy rains in August. There will be some water damage, but overall it’s an average crop, on more than 100 acres, he said.

“We came up short last spring, (after a poor season last year),” he said, “but I think we will be alright.”

Unadilla dairy farmer Derek Johnson said of the season: “It’s been pretty good for us.” The soil is well-drained, he said, so it was good season for both corn and hay. The corn harvest started last week and it should be finished in October; he was working on it Thursday when reached for comment. The yields on corn are above average because of the summer weather, he said.

“It was a good growing season,” with corn planted in April and the first hay cutting in May. Last year was “extremely poor because of the weather,” he said.

Richard Hewlett, whose son grows crops on the Otego farm where the family milked Brown Swiss cows for many years, said the corn looks good. Some was planted early and some late, he said, because of the weather. There was so much moisture in the spring, some areas flooded, Hewlett said. But “you can’t plant 150 acres in a day so you stretch things out and plant as soon as nature tells you,” he said.

Since the farm no longer has cows, it will all be sold to dealers, he said, and the harvest should be completed in October.