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Wet weather delays planting season - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Wet weather delays planting season

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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - All the wet weather has many fields saturated and is creating problems for farmers' crop schedules.

Take a look -- the fields at Elmer Farm in are pretty wet. "Every year is different and you have to go with it from day-to-day," said the farm's Katy Bauer.

This season has been an uphill battle at Bauer's organic vegetable farm. "It's really challenging for the tractors to get in there and get the ground worked up a little bit," she said.

Elmer Farm uses propagation houses to grow seedlings, which then get transplanted into the ground. "We just had an explosion of huge seedlings. Up until last week they were ready to go out, but we couldn't even work the ground because it was too wet," Bauer said.

While the weather is causing some delays on Elmer Farm, they are doing their best to get crops in. So far they've transplanted onions, broccoli and cabbage. Inside the propagation houses, some produce has already been harvested and then sold at local farmer's markets. Lettuce has been popular. "You can see we just recently cut this one; it's a variety you can cut and it comes back," Bauer said.

Bok choy, scallions and radishes have also been grown successfully. A lot of farms haven't been as fortunate.

"This winter never seemed to end," said Jonathan Chamberlin, a crop consultant at Bordeau Brothers in Middlebury.  He says that so far there hasn't been too much in the way of planting. "Over the last couple of years we were in the 20/25 percent plantage range by this time. This year we're zero."

If the ground stays saturated for much longer, some farmers may have to change the variety of crops that they plant. "We actually have to start shortening up the day lengths of corn, cause in order to get it to harvest the right time -- the middle of September -- you may start with 105 day but if things go much longer your down to like a 95 day," Chamberlin said.

Measures like these lead to reduced tonage, and may jeopardize feed quantities for milk-producing cows. Chamberlin says if the weather turns around, annuals could still end up being OK, but that won't help hay. "As far as the hay crop -- I think the damage is done," he said.

So the sooner the sunshine returns, the better off many farmers will be. Bauer couldn't agree more. "We're all hoping for a little more sunshine," she said.
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