Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

The Great Pumpkin Letdown

Doug Allen, co-owner of Long Acre Farms in Macedon, surveyed his field. He knew that Mother Nature would be cruel to the jack-o-lantern business this season. Much of the crop was lost, the ones that survived the wet Summer would be, in general, smaller and more expensive than in seasons past.

While Allen says they did plant two weeks later than normal, the weather was too wet for the pumpkins to really have a chance. “I’d say we got about half the yield we normally do. While many of those were good quality, it doesn’t make up for the rest of the crop.” Long Acres has had to cancel their annual “Pumpkin Carry” that benefits Gananda Dollars for Scholars, simply due to lack of pumpkins. Allen says this is only the second time in 15 years that he and his wife Joan have had to cancel the event.

Pat Bell’s U-Pick Pumpkins at the corner of Canandaigua Road and Route 441 in Walworth cast even a broader shadow over the pumpkin growing season, apologizing in ads in this newspaper for the bad season. “The pumpkins did not survive!”.

While the overly wet summer was good for some farmers in fruit orchards in the northern part of Wayne County, those growing field corn are taking their licks.

“Corn sucks”, said field corn and soybean Macedon farmer Bill Hammond. The early spring rains delayed the planting of the corn crop past the June 10th cutoff date. Farmers, unable to seed their muddy fields, were then cursed with a wet summer that damped potential corn profits. Hammond, who is also the Macedon Town Supervisor said they were only able to seed half of the expected 600 acres due to the weather.
As for the corn that was planted? “The wet weather of course, cut our yield by 25%, or worse. I’ve seen corn without a damned ear on it due to the heavy rains.”

On the soybean side of the equation Hammond said the crop in his fields has weathered the storms and expects a decent crop.

Brian Manktelow, the Lyons Supervisor and owner of a large corn and soybean operation in Lyons expects corn yields to be down 15-20 bushels per acre over the last year’s 160 per acre. “I really don’t know until we get into some of the wetter ground.” He said his bean production is steady, but again, they have not harvested the wetter fields.

To compound the farmer’s woes, corn that sold for anywhere from $7.25 to $6.25 per bushel last season has dropped this year to the quoted price on Friday of $4.28 bushel.

Hammond said beans are down from a high last year of $15 to the quoted market price around $12.75 per bushel.