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North Country farmers doing okay despite dry summer

Wayne Ouimette, field hand at Rulfs Orchard, said the effects of the hot, dry summer can be  seen on many of the farm’s crops.

Wayne Ouimette, field hand at Rulfs Orchard, said the effects of the hot, dry summer can be seen on many of the farm’s crops. Photo by Shaun Kittle.

“We have vegetables shipped to us, so there might be a slight increase (in prices) in winter and early spring,” Pray said. “But there won’t be an increase with local stuff.”

Linda Facteau, produce manager at Rulfs Orchard in Peru, also said she doesn’t foresee local produce prices going up.

She has seen the effects of the dry weather, though, and so have her customers.

“We’ve had people complain that the strawberries aren’t as big, and some of the corn is so sunburned people are saying it looks old,” Facteau said.

Apples and pumpkins are also smaller than normal.

“As a farmer, you could just cry seeing the fields as dry as they are,” Facteau said.

Irrigating the 250-acre farm has depleted one of two manmade reservoir ponds on the property. The job of watering the apple orchards has gone to workers who would normally be harvesting and pruning the trees.

Wayne Ouimette, a field hand who is in his 25th season at Rulfs Orchard, has been on the front line of reinvigorating the crops on the property.

“We’ve just been rotating our irrigation from field to field as things begin to wilt,” Ouimette said. “If we didn’t have irrigation, we would have lost 75 percent of our crops.”

Plants aren’t the only thing that have required careful managing this summer.

Owner of Conroys Organics Simon Conroy raises grass-fed beef on his farm, and relies heavily on high-quality grasses to sustain his herd of about 75 cows.

“It’s not a dire situation,” Conroy said.

“The Northeast is such a green place, which is why we’re raising beef in the North Country.”

Conroy has 50 acres of pasture and 50 acres of hay land that he utilizes to raise his cattle.

The pasture is broken up into small plots, which the cows are cycled through all summer, and the hay land is used to grow grass for the animals to eat throughout the winter.

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