May 10, 2011
Many Vermont farmers continue to feel the effects of the flooding experienced in April that has left rivers, lakes and streams above flood levels. The heavy rains in April, accompanied by runoff from above average snowfall, farmers are facing water-logged fields that are too wet for planting, debris, and other damages. Producers are reporting that they are now at least three weeks behind schedule for planting spring crops.
“We’ve had reports from farmers in a number of counties that they have holes in their fields and scattered debris on their fields,” said Bob Paquin of the Vermont Farm Service Agency. “In many cases it’s impossible to survey the damage because there is still standing water on many fields.”
If the weather improves and the fields have a chance to dry out, planting might be able to continue, but time is running short. “Grain growers are really running out of time,” said Heather Darby, UVM Extension. “They typically need to get those crops in by late April or early May in order for them to have time to mature. Last year, some farmers were able to get their crops in as late as May 15th, but they still need a week of dry weather to be able to work their fields.” The ramifications of a late planting season will be felt by farmers this winter if they have to purchase large amounts of feed for their animals.
Another challenge the wet weather has caused is the inability of farmers to spread manure on their fields. This deprives the soil of key nutrients necessary to maximize growth and health of crops that are planted. “Manure provides valuable nutrients for crop use and is the first step in the spring planting process. Manure needs to be spread and incorporated prior to the crops being planted,” commented Jim Leland, Vermont Agency of Agriculture.
Vegetable farmers are also struggling, however, due to a shorter growing season, they still have time to get seeds and plants in the ground. At the Intervale in Burlington, many farmers are dealing with a layer of sediment left behind by flood waters that has covered some of their crops. At least one farmer is considering the spinach crop she planted earlier in the season a complete loss.
Farmers with excessive flood damage can request assistance by contacting their county USDA Service Center staff with the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Source: Agency of Agriculture
Last Updated at: May 10, 2011 15:29:59