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Produce farmers challenged by extra rain, humidity

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 09 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 10 2013 05:27:00 PM CDT

Wet weather can be a drag, but for farmers, it can really hurt their bottom line.

Wet weather can be a drag, but for farmers, it can really hurt their bottom line.

The people who pick fruits and vegetables at Pappy's Orchard in Coopersburg, Lehigh Co., have one eye on the produce and the other on the sky.

"When the humidity comes, the rain comes, it's like, 'Ugh," said owner Lisa Urffer.

June flirted with record rainfall with much of it, like in July, scattered and spotty, but for Pappy's, the high humidity, not the rain, is the main foe.

"Fungus grows, mold grows," Urffer said.

To produce the perfect pies and fruit, Urffer said the real work is done not in the kitchen, but in the fields, spraying for fungus.

While produce farmers may be able to deal with Mother Nature's rain, for those who deal in hay, it's a different story.

At 6,000 tons per year, Heidel Hollow Farm in upper Lehigh County is the East Coast's largest exporter of hay.

"Typically, green is always good. Brown not so good," said owner David Fink.

Fink said they have a lot of brown as rain has damaged much of the farm's current hay crop, and color means money.

"This good green hay valued at $300 a ton. This, lucky to get $100," Fink said, as he pointed to rain-damaged hay.

Overall, farm experts said this is a good season for corn and grain. Fink is confident he can recoup his losses; Urffer is still hopeful for a sweet-tasting season, but both admitted it will take a lot more work, thanks to Mother Nature.