(Host) Vermont dairy farmers count on a good corn crop to provide their animals with winter feed. But as VPR’s Steve Zind reports, the weather has farmers worried that this year’s crop will be a bust.
(Zind) Vermont is overdue for a stretch of good corn growing weather. State agriculture officials say the cool, wet summer has damaged some corn crops and slowed others to a crawl.
(Heather Darby) “It’s really been a bad year for corn.”
(Zind) Heather Darby of the University of Vermont Extension Service says a poor corn crop presents significant problems for farmers.
(Darby) “I would say the majority of dairy farms in Vermont grow corn for silage and that’s a huge part of their dairy ration. So it’s major.”
(Zind) Darby says farmers who got their corn in before rain and cool weather started in mid-May are doing well. But many couldn’t plant that early. Some lost entire fields when seed rotted or washed away.
The corn that did come up is growing poorly because of cool soil temperatures. Darby says without warm weather, the corn won’t mature. Farmers can still harvest it but the quality isn’t as good and it’s harder to store. A poor corn crop means farmers will have to buy additional feed.
But hope springs eternal when it comes to Vermont’s weather. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Louise Calderwood says it won’t take much to rescue this year’s corn crop.
(Calderwood) “Corn responds wonderfully to hot, humid weather and it looks like it’s sitting there waiting for a week of what we would consider miserable hot, humid weather.”
(Zind) Calderwood says Vermonters will also likely have a longer wait this year before much of the locally grown sweet corn is ready to eat.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.