If the corn is knee-high by the Fourth of July, then most crop growers are comfortable saying it is a good growing season.
Robert More, a Montgomery farmer, reports that his corn is hip-high in some places but he still would call this year’s crop season only average.
“It’s pretty well in line with other years,” More said. “I mean, we had a cool, wet planting season, so sometimes you have to wait to get that seed in the ground, but the crops are doing fine now.”
More, who has been farming for 50 years, is expecting to harvest his 3-acre field of corn off of Saeger Station Road sometime in October. He credits his healthy corn plants to proper nutrient management.
“When the corn is dark green in color, it’s getting ample nutrients,” More said. “When it’s light green or yellow, it’s telling you it could use something.”
More also maintains all his fields by constantly surveying them for signs of insect damage or potential diseases. He also keeps a sharp eye out for any weeds that take root in his fields, since they
will compete with his corn plants for nutrients.
“Insects, disease and weeds are all something you can manage. Weather is something we don’t have any control over,” More said.
Linda Shirey, who operates Buried Treasures Farm Market in Linden with her husband, Tom, reports that this year’s growing season produced an above average strawberry harvest.
“We’ve had a real good season. Everything is a little late but other than that, it’s been fairly good for us,” Shirey said. “We’re going on week four of picking. Usually we plan on three weeks of berry picking so if we get four, we consider that a really good year.”
Tom Styer, a farmer from Muncy, agreed with the late start to the growing season but reports that his sweet corn crop is catching up quickly.
“Right now, it is looking beautiful,” Styer said. “I just planted pumpkins on Friday, so they’re a long ways off yet.”
The growing season in Tioga County is a little behind, according to Craig Williams, of the county’s Penn State Extension Office.
“If you found the one dry window to plant your corn this spring, then you might be ahead of last year,” Williams said. “Many farms are very wet and the corn is behind, but then it was cool for a long time and then when it did get warm, the hay (crop) took off, and there were many, many hay fields cut this last week.”
Williams also remarked that at this point in the growing season, conditions vary from county to county and, in some cases, farm to farm. The soil composition of the field also make a difference.
“Remember wet, warm, rainy conditions are not good for hay making but are good for corn growing, if it is planted,” Williams said. “So that leaves you with ‘depends’ … on who you talk to … did they have a wet, clay field or a dry, sandy, gravel field.”
John Esslinger, Penn State Extension commercial horticulture educator for Northumberland, Union, Snyder, Montour and Columbia counties, echoes Williams’ sentiment about the growing season.
“Most of the fruits and vegetables are a little behind,” Esslinger said. “We had a cool spring, so the soil was cold, which resulted in a later planting.”
Even though planters experienced a cold spring, Esslinger figures that recent warm weather has plants growing at fast rates.
“We’re catching up now. At one point, we were two weeks behind and now I’d say we are five days to a week behind,” Esslinger said.
Although there remains the rest of the summer, and September and October for some crops, Esslinger is optimistic about this year’s harvest.
“I think the yields will be good and the quality will be good,” he said.