Rain, heat and humidity are a mixed bag for area farmers

Local farmers say this year’s weather conditions have so far brought more hope than despair.

Rachel Tebbs, manager of Tebbs Farms, Montoursville, said customers have been buying corn sold from the family produce stand in Williamsport for more than a week.

“Everything this year looks excellent,” she said. “We had corn again before the 4th of July which we like.”

Just the right amount of rainfall along with some humid conditions have been the correct formula for corn, she explained.

Tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and other produce are also looking good.

“Too much rain is worse than not enough,” she said. “We can irrigate if we don’t get enough.”

Erick Coolidge said the corn at his family’s dairy farm near Wellsboro is looking healthy as ever.

“The corn is growing very well,” said Coolidge, a Tioga County Commissioner. “We use all our corn for feed. Our vet prepares our feed as a mix.”

Eventually, the corn will be picked and stored, and he’s crossing his fingers that the weather will continue to cooperate.

“We did plant some barley and that’s still standing,” he said. “Last year we didn’t have much hay. It was dry last year.”

That meant less feed for the cattle.

“We’ve had pretty good precipitation so far,” said Hal Drick, of Elimsport. “The rain makes it a little hard to get the hay, but I’m definitely not complaining. You need to get the hay dry once you mow it.”

Drick, a dairy farmer, uses hay for cattle feed, which needs to be dry in order for it to be cut. Overall, he said he’s not really concerned about conditions. He points to a healthy corn crop so far in July.

“Compared to last summer, we’re definitely in better shape,” he added.

Drick’s dairy operation is one of some 63,000 farms in Pennsylvania, a state that continues to depend on agriculture as among its leading industries. And agriculture continues to be a major component of the economy for the northcentral region.

Nippenose Valley farmer Jack Fenstermacher noted earlier this week that wet weather of late has prevented him from cutting hay.

“It sprouts and it’s no good. It ruins the seed,” he explained.

All told, Fenstermacher reported just four of his 50 acres having been cut. On the other hand, his corn and soybeans are doing well. Some of the corn was late due to the chilly spring, he said.

But he’s not complaining.

“We are in decent shape,” he said.

John Carpenter, who farms about 200 acres near Linden, can’t complain this year.

“Things are looking good,” he said. “The corn and everything else is growing like a jungle because of the heat and humidity and rain we’ve been having. It’s a little bit of a challenge for the guys who are trying to harvest their hay crop.”

Carpenter also grows alfalfa, tomatoes, peppers and pumpkins, all of which are doing well.

“We planted them (pumpkins) about the middle of June. From the time we planted the seed in the ground, it took three days until they emerged. That’s exceptionally fast.”

Carpenter sells much of his produce from a food stand. In the fall, he sets up a corn maze and sells plenty of his pumpkins.