If vegetable farmers have a choice between dry weather and wet weather, they will choose dry every time.
You can always put water on plants, but it’s hard to take it away. And too much water leads to disease, rot and other moisture-related problems, according to Aaron Gabriel, soil and crops educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Washington County.
He said the recent weeks of dry weather have not had a big impact yet and have actually helped in some ways. Farmers were able to get corn planted because fields were dry, and there has been enough moisture in the soil.
It has also helped hay growers, who have not been hindered by wet weather that keeps them from cutting grass for hay. If the grass is too wet, it can rot. If it is left in the field too long, it can lose nutritional value.
“It’s been great weather to cut hay, so folks are getting that in,” Gabriel said.
While the lack of rain has been noticeable, Gabriel said it would take another week or two of no rain to start raising concerns.
Brian Ziehm, a New York State Farm Bureau board member whose family runs dairy farms in Cambridge and Greenwich, said this spring’s weather has been far more conducive than last year, when cold weather and too much rain hindered crops.
“We’re a touch on the dry side, but it’s definitely more suitable for crops than what we had last year,” he said.
The first crops of spring are rounding into shape, and a number of local strawberry growers will offer U-pick opportunities on their farms starting this weekend.
Don Pierce, whose family farm on Goodman Road in West Fort Ann, Yoleberry Farms, grows strawberries and a variety of vegetables, said irrigation has kept things going this spring, but the fruits and vegetables were coming in well, even with dry weather.
“We’ve been watering a lot, but they are coming in well,” he said.
Yoleberry offered U-pick strawberries in the past, but will instead sell berries, squash, tomatoes, potatoes and maple syrup at a market on the farm property this year, with strawberries available this weekend.
With some horticultural tweaks, he said the farm plans to have strawberries into mid-July and has a bumper potato and squash crop coming.
Meg Southerland, whose family farm at Gardenworks Farm in Salem offers blueberry and raspberry picking, said the summer berries are doing well, despite the late arrival of spring and recent dry weather.
Blueberries looked to be on target for picking around the second week of July, and summer raspberries for a week or so later, she said.
“Everything looks good and looks like it is on schedule,” Southerland said. “The berries are forming well. We do need some rain, though.”
Parts of New England are in a pre-drought condition, but upstate New York has not gotten to that point.