THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

In Vt., wet weather a growing problem

Farmers anxious for fields to dry

Vermont’s record-breaking wet spring has soaked fields, such as this plot for corn at the Fairmont Farm in East Montpelier, delaying the planting of crops and fueling farmers’ anxiety. Vermont’s record-breaking wet spring has soaked fields, such as this plot for corn at the Fairmont Farm in East Montpelier, delaying the planting of crops and fueling farmers’ anxiety. (Toby Talbot/Associated Press)
By Lisa Rathke
Associated Press / May 20, 2011

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s record-breaking wet spring has left farmers in the lurch, delaying the planting of vegetables and feed crops for cows, truncating an already short season.

After a rainy April and May following a near-record snowfall, farm fields across the state are too soft and wet to cultivate. The wetness also could spell problems for certain crops.

“If it keeps on going any longer then we’re definitely going to end up with some problems with some dead roots,’’ said Victor Chaput, manager of Charlotte Berry Farm, a 56-acre pick-your-own farm that grows raspberries, blueberries, and pumpkins.

Typically dairy farms would be planting corn right now, but the fields are too soft for the machinery. An increasing concern is that corn planting might coincide with the first cut of hay.

“That can be really, really hard,’’ said Clark Hinsdale, a Charlotte dairy farmer and president of the Vermont Farm Bureau. “It can be hard for any size farm, but for a small, single-family sized farm you don’t have the tractors or manpower to try to do both at once.’’

Crossroads Farm in Post Mills has been waiting for the usual break in the wet weather, but it has not come yet. Farmers there have focused on their driest fields, getting in onions, leeks, peas, some corn, and peppers. But they’re quickly running out of places to plant, and the planted rows need to be cultivated.

Another week of rain, and they could be in serious trouble, said the owner, Tim Taylor.

“It will be a problem,’’ he said. “We have a short window of opportunity to make our living in. And you can start to count those days.’’

The farm has 13 greenhouses, but the cloudy, wet weather can affect their conditions, too. Without the sun to dry things out, they have to be careful how much they water the plants, or fungus will grow, Taylor said.

For now, farmers are watching the skies and their fields.

If the rain is followed by a warmer and drier June, they could catch up.

Hinsdale hopes to have his 300 acres of corn planted by June 1.

“Nobody’s skunked yet,’’ he said.