Sporadic weather creates concerns for some local farmers

This year, farmers dealt with a wet spring and then a long, cool summer

Farmers try to control everything about their crops -- from the soil they're planted in, to when the crop is harvested.

COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – Farmers try to control everything about their crops — from the soil they’re planted in, to when the crop is harvested.

But there’s one thing they can’t do anything about — the weather.

“Some years are wet, some years are cold, some are hot,” said Gene Sigel of South River Winery in Geneva. “This year we had a little bit of the worst of everything. We had a cold summer. We had a wet summer. And then we had a cold July and August.”

The wet, cold summer had Sigel seriously doubting this year’s harvest until three hot weeks in August came along.

“We’ve really been visited by a fairy godmother to bring hot temperatures,” Sigel said. “Dry weather. Record heat in the 80s and 90s right at the end of the season.”

Those three weeks decimated what was left of the grass at Lamppost Farm in Columbiana.

“This is the first summer I’ve had to feed hay” said Steve Montgomery of Lamppost Farm. “It was so dry in July and August.”

And at $6 a bale, the grass-fed cattle chewed up a fair portion of the farm’s profits.

Beautiful fall weekends mean corn mazes and fruit farms have been busy. But for other farmers, they’re taking stock of a pretty bad year.

The summer took a toll on some crops — like Christmas trees.

“They don’t like wet feet,” said Mary Jan Perdulla of Pioneer Trails Tree Farm in Youngstown. “And over the course of the summer, we had a week where it rained all week and that impacted those baby trees. We had a poor survival rate, we lost over 30 percent.”

The average Christmas tree takes seven years or more to grow to full height. That means losing trees now makes a big difference down the road.

One tree used to flourish, but changing weather means its days are numbered in Ohio.

“The Fraiser firs,” Perdulla said. “If this climate change keeps continuing and it keeps getting warmer in our area, that’s not conducive to raising them.”

Other trees lasted through the summer.  And Perdulla says she’s hoping for a cold winter with lots of snow.

“If the snow turns to rain — or freezing rain — people get discouraged,” Perdulla said.