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Some crops in Western Pa. thriving thanks to recent weather

| Saturday, July 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
An unidentified woman drives through a field this week, hauling a load of hay, as storm clouds loom overhead. Some farmers are having trouble getting to their crops because of the extremely wet weather.

The wet weather followed by hot, drier days is wreaking havoc with farmers, as excessive rain is keeping them from their fields.

“It's been terrible for us,” Bill Baker said of the 600 acres he farms around Scottdale area for both livestock and crops. “This is the first week that it hasn't been so wet, and as it is, I was in the field the other day with 3 inches of water.”

Baker said the crops are growing fine, but it's now a question of getting to them to harvest.

“We should be on our third cutting of hay, and I haven't even finished the first one,” Baker said.

A lifelong farmer, Baker said that the summer's weather is one of the most extreme he has ever seen.

“I think that it's the worst,” Baker said. “It's supposed to get warm now and dry up, but you never know what to expect. They say it's going to be a sunny day, then you go out and the skies open up.”

The weather has been perfect for the crops, though.

“This is the first time in my life that I have ever seen tassels on corn the second week of July,” Baker said.

The farmers to the east have not been as fortunate, with many parts of the state receiving little rainfall.

“The corn in our area is doing great,” Penn State Cooperative Extension interim county director Walt Bumgarner said. “As far as all this wet, then warm weather, it's actually really good for the corn. Here in the West (Western Pennsylvania) it's good, but out East, they haven't been getting a whole lot of rain.”

Bumgarner echoed Baker's comments about the wet fields, saying that while the crops are thriving, getting to them is the tough part.

“Lots of rain, then lots of heat, is just what corn needs,” Bumgarner said, adding that according to the USDA, 82 percent of corn corps in the area are reported at good to excellent. “But for crops like wheat and oats, it's tough. The fields have been too wet and it's been too wet to make hay. But as far as corn goes, it's been great.”

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.

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