The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 14, 2012

Growing season a mixed bag for area farmers

By WARREN DILLAWAY - warren@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

— Farmers experienced a mix bag of treats during the 2012 growing season with some crops flourishing and others having a below average year.

Pumpkin farmers are having a great year while local apples are hard to come by.

A unique aspect to the 2012 growing season was significant rain differences within Ashtabula County causing some areas to be much drier than others, said Ashtabula County Exten-sion Agent David Marrison.

“This year there were belts (of rain),” Marrison said of precipitation that doused some areas and left others, just miles away, dry.

Marrison said farmers in Ashtabula County did much better than those in other parts of the state that had a dreadful year. “We can stand a dry year better than a wet year,” he said.

“Pumpkins look awesome this year. There are pumpkins everywhere this year. Pumpkins like dryer conditions. They were in the flowering stage right when we were getting all the rain,” Marrison said.

Grape growers had a “pretty fair year,” but some specialty grapes, raised to make ice wines, had to be harvested early because of a late September hailstorm, Marrison said.

The apple growers had a terrible year, Marrison said. “Apple (growing) was nonexistent because they got frosted out. The apple crop took a big hit,” he said. Marrison said local growers have had to ship apples to the area from farms in New York state.

Many traditional crops had an average year with many farms having wide fluctuation of production.

“It wasn’t a bad year. It wasn’t a great year,” Marr-ison said. Some crops are still being harvested. “I know there are some guys still picking sweet corn,” Marrison said.

Fluctuations of field productivity were really visible in soybeans and corn, Marrison said. He said soybean harvesting is still under way with average yearly production being 40 bushels an acre.

He said area farmers were experiencing anywhere from 20 to 65 bushels a gallon. “Date of planting was crucial this year,” he said.

Corn productivity is averages about 150 bushels an acre with this year’s yields ranging from 80 to 200 bushels an acre, Marrison said.