July 15, 2013

Local farmers struggle to catch up

PLATTSBURGH — The rainy weather has left farmers concerned about their crops this season, and many are catching up on their harvest with the recent sunny weather. 

Tony LaPierre, president of the Clinton County Farm Bureau and owner of Rusty Creek Farm in Chazy, has delayed harvesting his hay for about a month. 

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“It (the rain) has delayed a lot of normal cropping routines,” LaPierre said.

Although planting corn typically begins at the end of May, some seed never went in the ground.

“A lot of people got their corn in, but there are still a lot of unplanted acres. Probably 20 to 25 percent of the acreage in the county is unplanted,” LaPierre said.

Some corn that was planted didn’t fare well in the wet weather, especially seeds that were planted in low-elevation areas. 

“Corn that was planted there has drowned. The seedlings can’t survive more than 48 hours under water,” LaPierre said.

But corn isn’t the only problem. Local farmers have struggled to harvest hay.


Hay fields need about four days in a row of sun before they can be harvested, LaPierre explained.

“If you have excess moisture, you’re not able to put up a good quality bale,” he said.

A wet bale can become moldy, which is a hazard to livestock. If the moisture level is too high, hay can combust, which is a hazard to farm structures.

“Any poor quality feed is poor for the health of the animal. You can’t feed that kind of feed to livestock and expect them to do well,” LaPierre said.

Often, cows will pick through moldy hay or refuse to eat it, he said.

Typically, farmers begin harvesting their hay in late May or early June.

“Here it is, in July, and very small amounts of hay have been put up,” LaPierre said. “A lot of the crop has gone by or is mature in the field.”

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