It has been such a difficult summer for farmers across the state from the exceptional rainfall. Tropical Storm Henri only added insult to injury.
The heavy rain was only part of the equation at Botticello Farm in Manchester where over 5 inches of rain fell during Henri, but the wind actually did more damage. Tobacco plants that typically stand straight up are now leaning over.
“If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” says Tony Botticello, owner of Botticello Farms. “It’s like we can’t catch a break.”
Corn also took a hit from the wind, adding to the labor demand as well.
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“Usually we’ll pick those with a corn picking machine but when they’re flat you can’t do that you have to pick it by hand and it’s very difficult, very labor intensive,” says Botticello.
For farmers like Tony who grow crops along the Connecticut River, all of this rain has led to some of the worst flooding he has seen since 2011. Back in July, with a large portion of his crops under two feet of water for two days he saw a significant loss.
Botticello said, “earlier with the storms in July the river came up high and ended up flooding some of our pumpkins and winter squash I figure at least half of it is gone.”
Farmer Eric Peterson from Cold Spring Brook Farm in Berlin also lost a large portion of his most valuable crop.
“Tomatoes when they’re ripening up you get a lot of water on them, the skin splits and they just aren’t marketable anymore when they’re like that so there’s a lot of that out there right now,” said Peterson.
Eric estimates there will be a couple hundred baskets full of tomatoes that will be left behind. Loses like this are forcing farmers to get creative with growing practices and budgeting as our climate continues to change.
“Last year it was so hot and so dry you couldn’t get a drop of rain to fall,” explained Peterson. “And this year is the opposite so it does seem like it’s more challenging than ever.”
Farmers say the best thing you can do to help is just shop local. There is still so much great, fresh produce at our local farm stands and farmers markets and support from the community is what these farmers need most now.