Farmers: Summer rain is a blessing or a curse

The rainfall this summer has been either a blessing or a curse — depending on the farmer and the soil.

Consistent rainfall has been a challenge for those making hay and harvesting grain, as dampness depreciates value and adds cost for drying the product.

Chris Hall, who operates a dairy farm 2 miles north of the Lycoming Mall, said the rain has been a challenge. His farm is in the hillsides north of the interstate and he’s never experienced a summer with rain every other day or every third day.

“I’ve never seen a summer this wet,” Hall, 50, said of the rainy conditions and the effect they’ve had on his farm, which produces soybeans, corn and sweet corn.

Rain impacts the drying time for the hay and decreases the value of the grain.

“Any time there is wet, heavy soil, it is tough to get hay and grain dry,” Hall said. Farmers must budget for such contingencies, he said.

Hall said another problem was a similar wet spring, causing some farmers a delay of at least two to three weeks in planting.

At Richard Snyder’s farm along Route 87, on the other hand, the rain has not damaged the sweet corn.

“We have soils that drain easily and the rain is a benefit to us,” Snyder said.

The farm has sand mixed in its soil, which helps it drain well, compared to other farms that have heavier soil, he said.

As for rainfall, July ended as the seventh wettest on record since data started to be kept for Williamsport by the National Weather Service in 1895.

The month accrued 7.4 inches of rain, compared with the monthly average of 3.1 inches. A dry spell with some seasonal August heat would be helpful to farmers making hay and gathering grain, according to Matt Steinbugl, a meteorologist in State College.

Monday’s rain caused downed wires and trees in parts of Lycoming County.

Beautys Run Road was closed at the intersection of Grove Road in Lycoming Township due to downed wires and trees and later in the day it was down to a lane restriction, according to the state Department of Transportation.

“A detour is in place using local roads,” said David Thompson, a department spokesman.

PPL Electric Utilities reported all customers who were without power during the rain storm were back in service as of Monday.

Steinbugl also provided a look at this week’s forecast.

Look for midday sun and dry weather today through Wednesday, Steinbugl said.

The next chance for rain is Thursday afternoon and that period continues into the weekend, with chances of spotty afternoon thunderstorms and rain showers each day, he said.

High temperatures should be normal for this time of year, with temperature in the low to mid-80s.

One outdoor activity that may be affected by rain is the Multi-State Williamsport Marching Millionaires 2017 Drum Corps Invitational at STA Stadium at Williamsport Area High School. The event is slated for 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday. While the weekend is a bit far off, Steinbugl said the forecast indicates mostly cloudy conditions, with a low of 64 and a chance of precipitation at 60 percent.