Weather is altering crop production

KIMT NEWS 3 — Now that the weather is finally starting to shape up, you may be thinking of taking a trip to your local farmers’ market. But area producers and farmers are struggling to grow their crops, so it may be hard to find everything you want at those markets.

Farmers have been hitting their fields and not liking what is there.

“When I saw that, I thought, oh boy, this doesn’t look good,” said Milt Wolff.

But the weather in 2013 is anything but normal.

“Usually by the end of May, first week in June we’re cutting hay,” Wolff said.

His field is not the only one struggling to grow.

“That’s going to affect the production for 2013. The crop could be really sensitive to the weather situation and the snow cover and ice and the rain that happens and plus it was weak going into the winter because of the drought,” said Lee Crawford, Executive Director of the Freeborn County Farm Service Agency.

He said this year’s new growth is either dead or severely weakened, forcing farmers like Wolff to come up with a plan-b.

“I’ll dig it up, and rip it up and put corn in it and then I can put that in the silo for the cattle this fall,” Wolff said.

Since Wolff is not alone in the battle with the elements, those like Crawford are seeing if government assistance is needed.

“Go out, take some pictures, talk with some farmers and then I send it up the line up to St. Paul, they would send it to Washington. What we’re looking for is if there’s a 30 percent loss on a significant crop,” Crawford said.

But the weird weather is also causing problems for food that goes to humans as well.

“There won’t be as many early season vegetables that are coming out of the garden because people were simply not able to get in and plant this season like last season,” said Verlys Huntley, Albert Lea Farmers’ Market Board Chair.

She said it may be hard to find radishes, green onions, lettuce and a few other things this early this year, but some have a new weapon in the war against the weather.

“There’s a few people now in our market that have high tunnels, which are plastic enclosed hoop houses basically and some have greenhouses, so you could see something coming out of those,” Huntley said.

Of course, not everything is in short supply at the farmers’ market; Huntley said jams, baked goods and other items will still be available.

Crawford said a lot of the disaster relief programs expired with the 2008 Farm Bill. He said the one year extension did not include many of those programs which is why crop insurance is important for situations like this.

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