County farms yield abundant harvest

ADDISON COUNTY — Crop yields were looking good this year for Addison County farmers — by some accounts, better than they have been in many years.
Craig Miner, county Farm Service Agency executive, said that from what he saw, nearly the entire growing season spelled good luck for local farmers.
“It was an excellent season — probably one of the best in recent years,” he said.
Ben Gleason, of Gleason’s Grains in Bridport, agreed. He said the combination of just enough rain and more warmth than last summer meant that his crops did well.
“I was harvesting more than I’ve ever harvested before,” Gleason said, though he acknowledged he had also added acreage this year. “And the quality is better.”
Gleason’s wheat was all harvested in July, and since then his focus has shifted to the next step: milling his grain and selling the flour. Though Gleason said the added acreage and the switch to a higher protein, lower yield wheat crop means that it’s hard to compare seasons, it was a very good year by any measurement.
“I’ve got a lot of wheat,” he said.
The only unfavorable part of the growing season was the early fall, which was unseasonably wet, Miner said. Because of the wet fields, some farmers with later crops like soybeans or third- and fourth-cut hay have been unable to harvest those.
Still, the late season wet weather hasn’t made a large difference in the year’s high crop yield, especially when compared with the summer of 2009.
“There’s hardly any comparison between 2009 and 2010,” said Miner. “Last year was a very, very wet year. There were poor yields on corn and hay crops.”
This year, dairy farmers in the county have been able to put up a good amount of hay and corn for winter feeding. That’s an especially good thing, said Miner, because of relatively high grain prices.
“A lot of dairy farmers have to feed higher levels of corn (in the winter), and corn prices are incredibly high right now,” said Miner. “Commercial grains have gone up substantially lately.”
Mike Eastman, an Addison dairy farmer, only feeds his cows hay, so he’s not thinking about the high corn prices come the winter. He said on his farm, the growing season was a good one.
“May, June and July were really good months,” said Eastman, who sells his milk to the Organic Valley dairy cooperative. He grazes his cows all summer, and in the winter feeds them hay.
And while 2010 saw a very good summer for the alfalfa that farmers grow for hay, Eastman said that the dry weather at the end of summer impacted production.
“August and September were dry,” he said. “They were not as good as they could be for grazing, and milk production was down a bit because of that.”
Overall, though, Eastman said the season had been productive.
“I have plenty of hay for the winter, and enough pasture to last the cows through the end of next week,” he said.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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