Things are looking bright in the Northeast as farmers have been busy with spring planting.

“Overall, planting is going well,” said Steve Ammerman, representing New York Farm Bureau. “It had been a cooler start to the season and the spotty freezes raised some concern for the fruit crop, but we have not heard of any widespread issues. Corn planting is well underway and some farms are getting the first cutting of hay in across the state. The recent spate of good weather has been helpful and a welcome sight for farmers right now.”

According to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, farmers in New York had planted, as of May 10, 29% of their barley (23% in 2019), 8% corn (less than 5% in 2019), 36% oats (26% in 2019), 17% onions (16% in 2019), and no soybeans (the same in 2019).

Despite the slow start, farmers are making good headway now that the weather has turned. USDA reported that just a week later, farmers in New York had planted 42% of their barley (25% in 2019), 16% corn (6% in 2019), 51% oats (35% in 2019), 23% onions (25% in 2019), and 5% soybeans (less than 5% in 2019).

“Planting’s been going pretty well,” said John Williams, co-owner of Williams Farms in Marion, New York. “We had a good start, and then it got wet, but we were able to get going again pretty soon. Onions are going in on time, and potatoes are going in now, and that’s on time. It’s doing well, as it’s dry now. It’s been a decent spring after the wet weather.”

The farm grows 120 acres of apples, 200 acres of potatoes, 125 acres of onions, 20 acres of carrots, 60 acres of wheat, 60 acres of corn silage, 60 acres of hay, 350 acres of soybeans rotating with field cord and 10 acres of cabbage, along with raising 350 head of beef cattle.

In Newfield, New York, organic grain farmer Thor Oechsner, owner of Oechsner Farms, said that spring wheat went in mid-March and early April, thanks to dry weather; however, cooler weather hampered its growth.

“It took a long time to come up,” Oechsner said.

As of May 26, he hasn’t planted any corn.

“We’re a certified organic farm, so I really need the soil temperature to be above 50 in order to plant,” Oechsner said. “I typically plant a few weeks later than my conventional neighbors who can put fungicides on. We’ve got everything plowed and are fitting.”

Though the cold weather prevented him from planting earlier, he’s not discouraged.

“For the year and temperatures we’ve had, I’ll be right on time,” he said. “I’m going to plant next week which is later than normal, but a good time considering the weather.”

Oechsner grows 150 acres of corn, 120 acres of spring wheat and 350 acres of buckwheat, which he plants in mid-June to early July.

“All in all, we’re behind normal, but it’s not a normal year,” he said. “Is there a normal year? There’s always something to work around.”


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