Garry Wilkins, a third-generation diversified/dairy farmer in Bedford County, had a good year for his 130-acre corn crop.
According to Zachery Larson, Penn State Extension educator, it was a good year for corn across the farmlands of Pennsylvania. By Oct. 22, 89 percent of the corn crop in the state had matured. To date, 41 percent had been harvested and 47 percent got a mark of excellent. Another 43 percent was good.
Wilkins agrees with Larson that the most difficult time was planting. A cool wet spring delayed the planting. Larson says it did allow for some slugs. Wilkins, however, said he had a very good corn year.
The dry spell in September did little harm to this year’s crop as steady rains and warm days throughout the growing season had the corn near maturity at an early date.
Larson says he believes most corn grown in Bedford County is either kept for the animals on the farm or sold locally.
“We have a good crop of corn but not extremely large compared to some local farmers,” Wilkins says. They use their corn to feed their 75 head of Holstein cattle. Diversified in many aspects, the Wilkinses also have a few pigs, some chickens, and a couple of goats. None of them would refuse corn.
They have four silos, each containing about 5 to 600 tons. Wilkins has corn silage, hay silage, high moisture corn and dry shell. His harvesting has been completed for several weeks. The Wilkinses have all their own equipment for corn planting and picking.
To be prepared for a healthy corn crop next year, Wilkins does some cover crops and spreads manure in the fall.
Hay was equal to corn this year in growth. The only problem was getting it dry enough to cut between the plentiful rain showers.
The Wilkins farm is owned by Garry and Vanira Wilkins. Son Garron is their main source of help. Garry’s 86-year-old mother pitches in to do what she can. “Farming is in her blood and she enjoys it,” he said. She tends the calves most days and also claims the chickens as hers. Vanira teaches school in Bedford and plans to retire this year.
“I plan to help out on the farm as well as enjoy our five grandchildren who all live nearby,” she says.
In addition to the regular dairy farm chores, the Wilkinses tap about 1,600 maples trees in the early spring. The last two years have not been as good as they would have liked due to unusual warm seasons in mid-winter.
They were concerned about maple trees that suddenly turned brown and dropped their leaves this year without producing the color Pennsylvania usually sees in the fall.
An article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoting Kim Steiner, director of the arboretum at Penn State, indicated that it was the wet August followed by a prolonged dry spell that caused the trees to be absent of color this fall. The trees were stressed but it should not affect them for next year.
In addition, the Wilkinses also have several school buses. “With farming being what it is these days,” Garry Wilkins says. “You have to be as diversified as possible.”