Farming troubles

As many area farmers are set to harvest their grains and cut hay, some are experiencing some hassles, due to a wetter-than-normal season.

The numbers from the wastewater plant show that June in Marietta had nearly 5.5 inches of rain, making it pretty soggy and more than an inch above the average for the month.

Kate and Tom Fagan, owners of Fagan’s Farm LLC, in Lower Salem, said they’re a little concerned about their oat crop, which is taking some time to dry out.

“With heavy rain, if the grain gets too heavy, it will lay down and we’ll lose the crop,” she said.

Tom said there are a few spots that are already down, which will make those areas impossible to harvest with the combine. However, the couple said they think most of the crop will be fine.

Kate said another issue that has popped up is weeds.

“(The rain has) made the weeds grow faster than we can keep them out of our garden,” she said. “It’s a fairly large difference (in the amount of weeds), really. There’s been a couple small things we’ve just given up in fighting.”

Hay cutting hasn’t been a simple affair for Bartlett resident John Graham, 56. He said the wet weather has put his operations back by many weeks.

“Basically we’re doing our first cutting when we should be doing our second,” he said. “We’re running that far behind.”

Graham said there would definitely not be a third cutting of hay this year.

“There’s probably not going to be much of a second (cutting), not getting the first one off (the field) in time,” he said. “A third is out of the question.”

After cutting the hay, it has to dry, and Graham said that’s been the difficult part, because of the rainy weather.

“We have trouble getting it in without it getting wet,” he said. “Plus you’ve got to watch the field. If you go in and it’s wet, you can make the ground rough and hard for the next time…In spring, you’re afraid to put fertilizer on the fields because you’ll tear it up, it’s so wet…We’re way behind.”

While Graham said business is behind, he also said that the fall is not looking so bright.

“The further we get into fall, the dew stays on longer,” he said. “In June what you can do in two days takes three to four in September to get (the hay) dry enough to get it in. Last fall, we had that same thing.”

He said the market for hay might be a little slim the closer it gets toward fall.

“I’m afraid I might not have enough (to sell),” Graham said. “The second (cutting) is going to be extra short…I’m just to the point now where I’m going to take care of my stuff and not try to sell any.”

Jerry Witten, owner and operator of Witten Farm, in Lowell, said raising his angus beef cattle has turned out great, but raising wheat hasn’t gone as smoothly.

“We’ve had quite a rainy season,” he said. “I’ve not had a very good yield on my wheat. It’s down a good ways.”

Witten said the prices for wheat haven’t yet been affected, but that could change.

“There will probably be a big demand for hay this fall, and (for) the wheat crop,” Witten said. “The wheat crop is just kind of in a mess clear across the United States. We’ve had too bad weather and (a bad) winter. The markets have been up, then they’ve crashed. It’s not very pretty in the wheat business.”