Nichole Hill

Nichole Hill, of Hill Farms in Mineral Point, restocks produce at the Ebensburg Farmer’s Market on Saturday, July 6, 2019. Hill, who’s been growing organic produce for about 16 years, farms about 180 acres and dedicates 7 to 8 acres to organic fruits and vegetables. Last year’s wet weather hurt many farmers, including Hill, who does not use any fungicides or pesticides, which made her crops even more susceptible to disease.

It appears that Pennsylvania’s farmers weathered a wet spring with the arrival of sweet corn ready for market.

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau reported earlier this month that many farmer-owned markets in the commonwealth had corn on the cob available for last week’s July Fourth holiday. 

“We were pleasantly surprised to learn that many farmers (had) sweet corn available to sell to consumers to include as part of their Fourth of July picnics,” farm bureau President Rick Ebert said in a news release.

“We anticipated that record rainfall across the state this year would have put more of a damper on sweet corn production and were happy to learn that the crop is in better shape than expected.”

Although rainfall has been above normal in 2019, it’s still behind last year’s record-breaking numbers. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the May-July 2018 period for Pennsylvania was the third wettest on record, with July 2018 being the wettest July in the last

124 years. 

Such conditions caused delays in planting and harvest, while also increasing the chances of crop disease.

Yahner Brothers’ farm in Patton had to replant more than 100 acres of corn last year after rain drowned seeds that were already planted. 

Bob Davis, of Colver, did not plant any sweet corn last year because of the weather, but this year, he planted about 20 acres, and “most of the corn looks good,” he told reporter Jocelyn Brumbaugh.

Davis plans to sell sweet corn and other produce at the Ebensburg Farmers Market.

Cassie Hess, owner of Somerset’s Hess Family Farm Market with her husband, Thad, said last year’s weather was challenging, but their early sweet corn looks good.

“So far, for us, it looks promising,” she said.

Summerhill Township farmer Jim Benshoff lost 2 acres of his potato crop earlier this year after four straight days of rain, in addition to most of last year’s late crop due to heavy rain in September.

Benshoff also said hot weather and rain contributed to black rot of about 90 percent of his cabbage crop in 2018. 

But “we weren’t hammered this year like we were last year,” he said. “What’s growing looks pretty good. We’re getting some decent stretches of weather.”

Benshoff sells produce such as beans, sugar snap peas, beets, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach and asparagus at his farm and the Ebensburg Farmers Market.

Craig Rose, whose family owns a 30-acre farm in Cessna, said he had a late start for planting this year due to rain, but he and his family are selling produce at the Bedford Farmers Market and the family’s market off Route 56.

We encourage consumers to shop at farmers markets to access fresh and nutritious food as well as support the local economy.