April 19, 2014

Elyria
Sunny
45°F
test

Summer crops are bountiful, but late-season vegetables could be in jeopardy if rain continues

Lorain County can thank the excessive rain for the bountiful crops available at local farms.

Patrick Fenik and his son, Adam, 9, show off their corn Monday. (CT photo by Bruce Bishop.)

Patrick Fenik and his son, Adam, 9, show off their corn Monday. (CT photo by Bruce Bishop.)

In June, the Greater Cleveland area saw a total of 7.90 inches of rain, which is above the 4.47 inches that is average for the month, according to the National Weather Service’s statistics.

Many farms reported reaping the benefits of the excess rain.

“More rain brings more corn,” said sweet corn farmer Patrick Fenik, of Fenik’s Sweet Corn, 6413 Lake Ave., Elyria.

Paired with the rain, Fenik attributes his crops’ success to sandy, well-drained soil and the summer season.

“The days are the longest this time of year,” Fenik said. “There’s lots of drying time.”

Fenik’s crop abundance falls in stark contrast to the agricultural struggles caused by last summer’s drought. The National Weather Service reported 2.04 inches of rain in June 2012, which took a toll on local farms.

The farmers at Sprenger Blueberry Farm, 2200 Baumhart Road, Vermilion, where the fruit needs a lot of water to survive, have noticed the difference.

“Last year, we were watering the blueberries every day,” Sprenger’s Mike O’Grady said.

However, the farm’s drip tape — its irrigation system of choice — has not been used for about three weeks. And, after a flood several years ago, Sprenger farm landscaped its fields to better handle heavy rain and allow for drainage, therefore coming into this summer well prepared.

What is concerning the farmers is the future of their vegetable crops.

The farmers’ biggest obstacle is the mud, which may begin to affect crop growth. Farmer Jay Pickering, of Grafton Township and Avon, said he is behind on fieldwork, specifically plant fertilization, because the soil is too wet.

It’s the late-season crops that are harvested in September and October that are most threatened by the mud.

“The mud prevents you from planting,” said Allen Grobe, who runs a fruit and vegetable farm at 43875 Telegraph Road, Elyria, and has yet to sow fall vegetables because of the constant rain.

Although the downpours are expected to end this week, vegetable gardens and fields will not be able to handle much more rain.

“Crops don’t grow when they’re wet,” Pickering said.

Fenik said that if the rain keeps on like this into the fall when the days are shorter, his crops will be more likely to drown, even with a drainage system in place.

Also, when water saturates the soil, it decreases the soil’s nutrient levels, eventually killing crops earlier than their average lifespan, according to farmer John Born, of Henrietta Township.

“It’s not a disaster, but it’s going to affect later crops,” Grobe said.

Contact Elizabeth Kuhr at 329-7144 or ekuhr@chroniclet.com.

  • Phil Blank

    I wrote the CT about this about 2 or 3 weeks go wanting to know how the crops were doing with all the rain.
    Thanks for the report.

    • tom2131

      Me thinks I’l go over there today and get me some of that. Haven’t had their sweet corn in a few years.

  • Phil Blank

    Because of the drought in the mid west, Northern Texas has switched to growing sunflowers because they are more tolerant of the weather conditions.