Friday, August 13, 1999
Drought means no sweet corn from local farmer
The hot, dry summer may be causing winemakers to predict that '99 will be a very good year, but local farmers are not raising a toast to the weather. "With 115 acres in corn," said farmer Mark Duffy, " I'd like it to rain."
Duffy reported that this summer's drought has had an enormous impact on his farming operations. "There will be no sweet corn this year, and the silage corn yield is way down." Duffy's goal is to grow enough food for the 130 cows at Great Brook Farm to make it through the winter. "It's tough to tell right now," said Duffy, whether he will make it. Corn is supplemented with feed hay, but the drought has affected hay production as well, and Duffy has made just one cutting of hay this summer.
Duffy irrigates only a small percentage of his fields. The irrigation system is mobile and depends on water from local ponds and streams. Fields at Great Brook Farm are irrigated from the stream that originates in Hart Pond, but Duffy said that there is not much water flowing. "One inch of water on one acre requires 27,000 gallons, and I've got 115 acres."
All this will probably have little effect on milk prices, said Duffy, because what happens in California has the biggest impact. The drought will cut into Duffy's profit, however. In addition to feed which may have to be purchased, the seed, fertilizer and additional labor all add up to money spent on a crop that may not be harvested.
Duffy is still hoping for rain. "Every week matters," he said. "The plants are in drought stress now. There is just no reserve in the soil."
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito