CHESTERLAND, Ohio - "We'll take what we can get," seems to be the consensus among Geauga County farmers who were talking about Friday's rains.
Kevin O'Reilly Jr. is a grain farmer, who owns several corn fields throughout Newbury in Geauga County. He showed NewsChannel5 what looked to be a half-chewed ear of corn. It's the affects of what has become one of the worst, national droughts in decades.
"I would say that there's not an upset farmer in the state to see rain," said Bill Patterson, owner of the Patterson Fruit Farm in Chesterland. The farm is known especially in the fall for its apple picking and corn maze, but for the fruit farm this year may not be as fruitful.
"The question is whether we can have the pick your own, whether we have enough apples in certain areas," Patterson said. The apples, Patterson said, first took a hit over the early spring, where he said northeast Ohio saw 19 frosts. The norm is around five.
Add the constant heat to the mix and Patterson said this could mean bad business for the crops. However, it's something we may not see right away.
"When you have a year when the tree's trying to grow and it doesn't have the nutrients, it's not able to grow quite the way it is and you can end up seeing a little residual damage a couple years down the road," said Patterson. He explained it's similar for pumpkins, Christmas trees and all kinds of fruit.
What we can see right now is the damage to corn, taking us back to O'Reilly. One of the affects this drought has had on corn is something he explained to be "tassel-ear."
"The plant was under so much stress, that instead of producing an ear on the side of the plant, like this one did, it actually produced the ear at the top," said O'Reilly. He went on to say this cannot be harvested, meaning it's a financial loss.
This begs the question; did Friday's rains help corn?
"Corn crop is what it is and that all happened back in July. The rain now is not going to change that,” O’Reilly said.
But there's still hope. The rain we saw Friday, according to O'Reilly, will still help soy bean and hay, which are two other crops O'Reilly and many other farmers produce.
In addition, O'Reilly and Patterson both agree that many farmers in the Geauga and Lake counties are actually doing better than the country as a whole.
"In northeast Ohio, I think, we're about as fortunate as it gets. Even as you look specifically at Geauga County and Lake County, as you see some of the corn fields where some of the state has about 50 percent to 100 percent crop loss. In Geauga County, I think, you're probably looking closer to the 10 percent to 25 percent,” Patterson said. “But that's spotty. We just tended to get the rains right when we needed them."
Patterson said it's not the same for all farmers in the area, and it's not the best news, but it's better than having no harvest at all.
According to Patterson and O'Reilly, we'll most likely being feeling the impact on our wallets when it comes time to purchase the produce, whether that is fruit or grain.
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