After this monsoon summer, local farmers will huddle in their fields and try to figure out how the deluge will affect their crops and their future.
Summer 2018 is one of the wettest on record. In some cases, severe thunderstorms dumped several inches of rain in a short time, and those storms seemed to rage each afternoon. A rainfree day is a rare commodity.
When rain falls as hard and as frequently as it has this summer, elevation is everything, local farmers said Monday. Boehm Farm’s main crops, apples and peaches, are thriving because the trees that nurture them are on high ground. Crops closer to the ground, Holmquest Farm and Greenhouse owner Tom Holmes said, end up rotting because they have no time to dry out between the daily storms.
The incessant rain forced the farmers to expand their spraying schedule to combat fungi and ward off insects. Spraying once done bi-weekly is now done weekly or, as Boehm set his schedule, every two-and-a-half inches of rain. That was a day’s work for some of the recent storms.
Heavy rain produces flooding, and that can produce standing water, where insects harmful to both crops and humans can breed, said Tessa Edick, leader of the FarmOn! Foundation in Copake. In a matter of minutes, rain and wind can wipe out an entire row of crops that took four months to grow, Edick said.
It’s not like the local farmers can control the weather. They know they can’t. “Farmers have go with it and hope for the best,” said Allison Marchese, marketing and fundraising consultant with Love Apple Farms in Ghent. What matters is how well they go with it.
Agriculture and tourism form the bedrock of the local economy. All farmers and the people who buy their products can hope for now is that there are silver linings around the dark clouds of summer.