Extra rain creates mixed results for farmersPublished 1:38pm Tuesday, July 16, 2013
To successfully grow, plants need nutrients, water and sun.
Too much of any one of these can thwart growth or, even worse, prevent it from happening at all.
Recent precipitation, however, hasn’t completely dried up the flow of fresh vegetables to the MainStreet Farmers Market.
“The rain storms have been localized,” said MainStreet Director Richard Wagoner. “Wednesday when we had all that flooding, I hardly got any rain at all at my house.”
The market has still seen a steady supply of fresh tomatoes, squash, corn and peas, Wagoner said. The farmers that come to sell their wares at the market come from all over, Wagoner said, but some farmers have been hit worse than others. One farmer who has been hit especially hard is Bob Hunt, who raises heirloom tomatoes, squash, corn and peas – among other crops – from his farm right outside the Alexander City limits and his land in Kellyton.
The story can be summed up with the rain gauges in his backyard – since July 1, he has already recorded 13 inches of rain.
“It is averaging more than an inch a day,” Hunt said. “I am throwing away as many tomatoes as I am keeping for market. They are either rotting on the vine or splitting open because they have too much water.”
Hunt said his heirloom bell peppers aren’t producing nearly what they should, and what was left of the squash was wiped out by the last two rainstorms.
As for his corn, it has been hit or miss. His corn in his backyard fields has been too inundated with rain to flourish, but his corn crop in Kellyton is a bit of a mixed picture.
“My sweet corn isn’t doing that well, but the field corn is doing fine,” Hunt said, adding that sweet corn tends to be less sturdy than field corn.
Even if it were to dry out now, it is almost too late for another harvest of tomatoes, Hunt said.
“I have a few more heirlooms I might set out,” Hunt said. “But it is too late to start from seed. An heirloom tomato from seed is an 85-90 day growing period. All it would take is one early frost and that would be it.”
The farmers market is set to remain open until late October, though Wagoner said some farmers are fearing the recent precipitation problem may soon reverse.
“Everyone is worried it might just quit raining all of a sudden and dry out,” Wagoner said.
Hunt compared the problem to a popular children’s tale.
“It is like the story of the three bears – ‘this one is too hot, this one is too cold and this one is just right,’” Hunt said.
Though it might not be the story for every local farmer, at the Hunt farm, this year’s rain has yet to be just right.