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Farmers not complaining about the rain

ADDISON COUNTY – From a hot dry June to a shockingly damp July, the summer’s growing season has so far been a rollercoaster. But not necessarily in a bad way, farmers are saying.

“Two inches of rain every week is double what we’d like, but it’s not bad,” said Eugenie Doyle of Last Resort Farm in Monkton.

Last Resort Farm grows 27 different crops, including certified organic vegetables, berries and hay. The variety is a blessing in a season like this, Doyle said.

“In super dry and then wet seasons like this, it helps to have different crops,” she said.

While berries flourish with abundant rain, raspberries can’t be harvested while it’s raining because they’re very susceptible to viruses, which has made Last Resort’s “pick your own” season a bit inconsistent.

Doyle said the wet weather has also been a challenge for garlic drying and haying. While her farm has lots of fans going to help the garlic along, for the haying “we just have to wait until the sun comes out,” she said. Hay needs to be cut, dried and baled, which requires three consecutive days of dry, ideally sunny weather.

“We’ll have lots to do when there’s a break in the weather,” Doyle said.

Champlain Orchard’s Bill Suhr said the rain is saving him work.

“Ironically, we’re working on enlarging two existing irrigation reservoirs to help cover us in periods of drought, which we experienced earlier this summer … but with six inches of rain we have not needed to irrigate the past two weeks,” Suhr said in an email to the Independent.

Suhr said that Champlain Orchards will have “increasing need to summer prune ahead of harvest to ensure the increased vegetative growth is removed and sunlight can penetrate the tree canopies and ensure uniform fruit coloring and sugar development.”

Despite the cooler temperatures, Suhr said Champlain Orchards has been harvesting a week ahead of schedule — they are just moving from the tart cherry harvest into summer plums and early peaches — and that overall, the large fruit crop is thriving with increased rainfall.

Doyle said that with the timetable moved up, some farms haven’t been ready to harvest, particularly since many are short on workers.

“We’re less stressed about the weather and more stressed, like everyone else, about not having enough hands around,” she said.

But complaining isn’t part of the job.

“Like all farmers, we’re quite resilient,” Doyle said. She added that there are, and will continue to be, different challenges every year.

“This year’s version of climate chaos is just this year’s version,” she said. And while the increasing drama of climatic shifts are a challenge, “complaining about the weather is never really helpful,” Doyle added with a laugh.

Reach Hannah Laga Abram at hannahll@addisonindependent.com.

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