American Agriculturist Logo

Northeast farmers report thirsty crops around the region

Surveyed farmers say crops look good, but the ground is getting too dry and rain is much needed.

7 Min Read
Corn looks green, tall and is starting to tassel on farms in Berks County, Pa.
TASSELING TIME: Corn looks green, tall and is starting to tassel on farms in Berks County, Pa., but there are pockets of dry area where tasseling started early, a sign of stressed corn.Photos by Chris Torres

So, how’s the growing season going thus far? In an area as large as the Northeast, it’s all about location, location, location.

But several farmers surveyed this week from Maryland to New York mostly agreed on one thing: We need rain.

We called and emailed a group of farmers and asked them three questions for our midseason checkup:

How would you say your crops look thus far? How has the weather been in your area? Is there anything you did differently this year compared to last year in terms of crop management?

Here are some of the answers we got.

Middletown, Md.

Drew Haines, Middletown, Md., grows 250 acres of corn, 180 acres of soybeans and 150 acres of hay.

How would you say your crops look thus far? The corn looks good right now. Don’t know how, but it does. Fertility has it cooking. Beans have been slow growing; just starting to shade. We plant on 30-inch rows.Hay has been pretty decent. We’re just starting second cutting.

How has the weather been in your area? Pretty dry so far. Since we planted corn on May 12, we’ve only had 5 inches of rain.

Is there anything you did differently this year compared to last year in terms of crop management? I quit using liquid nitrogen. I’m using granular fertilizer, concentrating more on feeding the plant with foliage.

0720T-3616B-1540x800.jpgREADY FOR BALING: Wheat is ready for harvest on this farm just outside Richland, Pa. According to the latest Crop Progress Report for Pennsylvania, 55% of winter wheat has been harvested.

 

St. Thomas, Pa.

Ben Peckman, St. Thomas, Pa., grows 450 acres of corn, 130 acres of soybeans, 190 acres of wheat and 120 acres of milo.

How would you say your crops look thus far? We had a decent start but are in desperate need of significant moisture. Very dry in our county.

How has the weather been in your area?  Drought conditions.

Is there anything you did differently this year compared to last year in terms of crop or soil management? Mostly the same, planted everything "green." Couple trials including 60-inch corn, relay cropping.

Lebanon, Pa.

Reid Hoover, Lebanon, Pa., grows 575 acres of corn, 25 acres of soybeans and 50 acres of mixed grass hay.

How would you say your crops look thus far? Crops are doing good. We do a lot of double cropping of corn and the later plantings seem to be starting out good.

How has the weather been in your area? Rain has been a little spotty and we seemed to miss some of the rain others had, but we have had enough to keep things looking good.

Is there anything you did differently this year compared to last year in terms of crop management? About 50% of our double-crop corn is on land that we incorporated the manure directly into the soil. We also used a drag line to transport the manure to the fields. The is the first year that we have done this on a large scale. This decreased the amount of soil compaction and the corn seemed to get a better start.

Biglerville, Pa.

Bruce Hollabaugh, Biglerville, Pa., grows 125 acres of apples, 75 acres of peaches and 20 acres of pears.

How would you say your crops look thus far? Variable. Getting very dry, had good conditions for some key diseases early and a hailstorm about two weeks ago. Peaches look good, where we have them. However, a freeze on April 25 reduced our crop in all areas.

How has the weather been in your area? Poorly, very dry right now.

Is there anything you did differently this year compared to last year in terms of crop management? Not drastically. We constantly aim to make small adjustments to our spray programs, improve cultural practices and be as efficient as possible.

Mifflintown, Pa.

Dave Hunsberger, Mifflintown, Pa., grows 178 acres of corn, 95 acres of soybeans and 109 acres of hay.

How would you say your crops look thus far? Crop was excellent, but on my Weikert shale soils we are very droughty when the showers miss us. If we don’t receive a good rain by next week, I think we will hurt yield.

How has the weather been in your area? Very dry now. May was cold and June gave a great start. But the last four weeks only a 0.6 inch of rain in total.

Is there anything you did differently this year compared to last year in terms of crop management? I continue to try and improve my soil health, wanting to build up biology and reduce commercial inputs. Continued with slow-release nitrogen and PSNT test. This year, I added in several sap tests to home in on micro-deficiencies. After doing some reading and searching, I decided not to put phosphorus on the row this year. I’m wanting plants to develop a more vigorous sharing communication arrangement with soil rhizome from the very outset of germination and sprouting.

0720T-3616C-1540x800.jpg
LOADING 'EM UP: Farmers have been busy harvesting this season’s winter wheat, just as these farmers on a recent day outside Richland, Pa.

 

Northumberland, N.Y.

Jan King, Northumberland, N.Y., grows 1,200 acres of corn, 125 acres of soybeans and 1,300 acres of alfalfa-grass mix hay.

How would you say your crops look thus far? Corn looks real good, but it varies by soil type. Corn planted early on the best land is optimal. Corn planted later on marginal land is good, somewhat stressed from lack of moisture. Some has already started to tassel, a sign of stress. Corn will need a lot more water during the next month than they got in the past month. Soybeans are a little behind and it looks to be an average crop. Hay yields (first and second cutting) are on the light side because it’s been dry, but dry fields have been phenomenal for harvesting. We need more rain for the second half of the growing season.

How has the weather been in your area? Rain has been spotty from intermittent storms. Overall, it’s been good, but there is some drought stress in certain spots.

Is there anything you did differently this year compared to last year in terms of crop management? Did nothing specifically different, but it’s been easier to get nutrients applied when and where we want to this year because fields are drier, so we could do tillage and get trucks on fields to spread manure. Last year was an extremely cold, wet spring. This spring was favorable.

Charlton, N.Y.

Dave Wood, Charlton, N.Y., grows 1,600 acres of corn, 1,500 acres of alfalfa hay and 900 acres of grass hay.

How would you say your crops look thus far? Corn looks good. We got it all planted by the end of May. Last year we were still planting around the first of July because it was so wet, which made for a shorter growing season. So corn is off to a really nice start. The first hay crop was good; the second a little short.

How has the weather been in your area? We’ve been fortunate. The dry spring allowed us to get all the corn in by the end of May. The last hay cutting looks good but could be a little tricky if we don’t get enough rain.

Is there anything you did differently this year compared to last year in terms of crop management? We planted more cover crop last fall (360 acres vs. 200 acres last year) so we had more to harvest this spring. It’s good for the soil and it also makes good feed for the cows.

Bacon Hill, N.Y.

Neil Peck, Bacon Hill, N.Y., grows 850 acres of corn and 1,200 acres of alfalfa-grass hay.

How would you say your crops look thus far? The corn looks really good, but we won’t really know until the harvest. The hay crop has been short because it’s been so dry. We’re just getting ready for the third cutting. Some crops won’t be worth cutting.

How has the weather been in your area? The only thing I can complain about is that there hasn’t been enough rain at the homestead. When there was 2 inches in Schaghticoke and 1.5 inches in Stillwater (where they also have fields) there was only a half inch here in Bacon Hill. We seem to have gotten the least amount of rain. Planting was easier this year than the past few years because it was dry. But once the hay is off, if there’s no rain there won’t be more hay.

Is there anything you did differently this year compared to last year in terms of crop management? We didn’t do anything different this year. The dry weather made it easier to plant corn. It was all in by June 12 compared to July 15 last year.

Read more about:

Hay

About the Author(s)

Chris Torres

Editor, American Agriculturist

Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.

Torres says he wants American Agriculturist to be farmers' "go-to product, continuing the legacy and high standard (former American Agriculturist editor) John Vogel has set." Torres succeeds Vogel, who retired after 47 years with Farm Progress and its related publications.

"The news business is a challenging job," Torres says. "It makes you think outside your small box, and you have to formulate what the reader wants to see from the overall product. It's rewarding to see a nice product in the end."

Torres' family is based in Lebanon County, Pa. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, Pa., where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.

Paul Post

Paul Post writes for American Agriculturist from eastern New York.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like


Aug 29 - Aug 31, 2023
Farm Progress Show annually hosts more than 600 exhibitors displaying new farm equipment, tractors, combines and farm implements; seed and crop protection products; and many additional farm supplies and services.
LEARN MORE