Hot, dry weather impacting Virginia crops

Hot, dry weather impacting Virginia crops

HANOVER, Va. (WWBT) - The dry weather is impacting some farmers in central Virginia as fall activities get fully underway.

Jeff Sears, owner of Hanover Vegetable Farm off Ashland Road, said his crops aren’t necessarily the size they typically see on an annual basis.

However, he said he’d rather deal with the drier weather than the tremendous amount of rain the area had this time last year.

"I don't want to complain much,” Sears said. “It could always be better, but after last year I'd much rather take this."

That's mainly because Sears lost all of his pumpkins due to the rainy weather in 2018.

“On top, they were just like this, they were hard as a brick,” he said. “When you turned it over where it touched the ground you could put your thumb through every one of them. We picked zero pumpkins.”

So it’s a refreshing sight for Sears to see pumpkins sprawled across his patch in Ashland.

“The varieties for families, they’re still [pretty] big, but normally they would be bigger,” Sears said.

As the area deals with unseasonably warm weather, it’s left some farmers slightly concerned about fall business.

“It needs to cool off some to make it more enjoyable for families,” Sears said. “They stay longer and have more fun because when it’s this hot they don’t want to stand out in the field that long.”

The weather has also taken a toll on another fall crop – corn.

“It normally would get 8-foot tall because you want it to grow for the maze,” Sears said.

This year’s corn stalks are roughly 3 feet shorter than what they’re supposed to be. They’re still tall enough to work for a maze, but Sears has a different problem. There isn’t any corn on them.

“We’ll pull all the corn and feed it to the cattle and stuff this winter, but as you can see, it’s not much for them this winter,” Sears said.

The same thing goes for the hay they cut, and Sears said they’re already dipping into their winter feed supply.

“Which means we will run out and the hay, if you can find it, the price is going to be through the roof,” he said. “The other problem is if you can’t feed [the cattle] you take them to the market, so the price is going to be low because a lot of people will be doing it - supply and demand.”

Even if it were to rain, Sears said they wouldn’t be able to gather enough hay to compensate for what is already being used.

In an effort to make sure they have a successful season, most farms like Hanover Vegetable Farm put on various fall events and activities.

The farm will host its “Gourds, Goblets and Ghouls Festival” Oct. 12 and 13.

Sears said it’s through community support that farmers are able to make it through the side effects Mother Nature brings.

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