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September 18, 2018

Rain Holding Back Oswego County Farmers


By Rebekkah McKalsen, Contributing Writer

FULTON, NY – This year has been an unusually rainy one for Oswego County.

According to Bill Gregway, local observer for the National Weather Service, this April was the wettest that the area has seen since 1859. May came in at 1.64 inches wetter than average, he added.

Strawberries at Godfrey's Last Stand have had to deal with flooding and now are starting to dry out. Weather conditions have made it a very difficult year for area farmers.

Strawberries at Godfrey's Last Stand have had to deal with flooding and now are starting to dry out. Weather conditions have made it a very difficult year for area farmers.

When asked how the rain was affecting his farm’s crops, Jeff Halstead of Halstead’s Harvest summed it up with: “One word. Terrible.”

The rain is flooding the fields, making them nearly impossible to plant; but he added that it can’t last forever.

“The Gulf of Mexico’s going to have to dry up soon,” he quipped.

Lena Caltabiano at Caltabiano Farms outside of Fulton complained of the same problem.

“The water’s been bad in the fields. They’re too wet to get into,” she said

A spokesman for Fowler’s Greenhouses in Hannibal agreed, but added that the only way to deal with the immense amounts of rain out in the fields has been to “put on the four-wheel drive and the dualies on the tractor and pray to God you don’t get stuck.”

He also said that the adverse weather has affected the amount of business in the greenhouses.

“Nobody wants to plant themselves and so nobody wants to buy,” he said.

Out at Godfrey Farms in Phoenix, the strawberries are going to be late this year because of the rain. But, for the most part they are doing quite well.

Josephine Godfrey said, “Our strawberries haven’t really been affected – except for the ones that are underwater!”

The farm has also had the same trouble with flooding fields

Godfrey said that their other crops have been affected much more than the strawberries. Normally, they plant all of their corn before Mother’s Day, but with the state of the fields, they have only been able to plant one field so far this year.

“We’re going to need a really dry fall in order to catch up,” Godfrey said.

Halstead and Godfrey agree that there is nothing that can be done except to wait it out.

At Maple Help Stock in Mexico, Jim Hurlbutt said that while the maple syrup is doing better than average “both quantity and quality-wise,” if the rain doesn’t stop soon, they will be unable to plant the corn and harvest the hay, which is all ready over-mature, that feeds the cows during the winter.

“We will lose milk production and come winter, we’ll have to buy supplemental corn, which costs us more money,” Hurlbutt said.

The rain also means more pesticides in the environment; the Hurlbutts have had to spray double what they spray in a normal year in order to keep up with what washes off in the rain.

However, relief is not in sight for these farmers – it doesn’t look as if the ‘Gulf of Mexico’ is drying up anytime soon.

According to Gregway, Oswego County is on target to have one of the top 10 wettest years on record, with year-to-date rainfall all ready 5.32 inches above the average for the end of May.

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