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Warm June nights yield sweet rewards

| Monday, July 7, 2014, 10:06 a.m.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Ambrose Farm owner Wes Ambrose checks the sweetheart grape tomatoes at his Winfield farm on Thursday, July 3, 2014.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Ambrose Farm owner Wes Ambrose checks the famosa savoy cabbage at his Winfield farm on Thursday, July 3, 2014. Ambrose said this is his best crop ever of cabbage and peppers.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Bell peppers are expected to be great this year because of June's rainy weather, as evidenced at Ambrose Farm in Winfield on Thursday, July 3, 2014.

For some Alle-Kiski Valley farmers, the weather couldn't be any better.

“Everything looks excellent,” said Harold Foertsch, owner of Har-Lo Farms in Jefferson. “The corn looks great. It's really yellow.”

Foertsch said he grows about 400 acres of sweet corn, but it's not just the corn that's doing well.

“The wet, hot weather has been perfect,” he said. “The (soy)beans are doing well.

“We have about 300 acres of beans,” Foertsch explained. “The wheat, barley and oats — everything is growing well.”

According to the National Weather Service in Moon, many parts of the Alle-Kiski Valley had about seven inches of rain in June.

Add to that an average high temperature of 80 and an average low of 60, and it's easy to see why farmers are doing so well.

Wes Ambrose, who farms about 300 acres in Winfield, said his corn should be ready to harvest in the next week.

“It's usually ready between the 10th and 15th (of July),” Ambrose said. “Because of how good it's been, the corn should be ready on the 10th.”

Ambrose said the recent weather couldn't have been much better.

“It really all depends on June nights,” he said. “We've had a lot of really warm June nights, and that's perfect.

“When you have cold nights, it really limits your growing days,” he said. “We also wrap our corn in plastic in the early months to help with the germination.

“The plastic keeps it warm and allows it to grow when it normally couldn't.”

Ambrose said the adage “knee-high by the Fourth of July,” doesn't really work for his corn.

“Right now, it's really tall,” he said.

Ambrose, like Foertsch, said his other crops are benefiting from the weather, too.

“These are the best crops of peppers and cabbage I've had,” he said. “The tomatoes look great, too.”

Not everything is perfect, Foertsch said.

“We haven't been able to get the first layer of hay up,” he said of June's rainy weather. “You can't make hay unless the sun shines. That old saying is still true.”

R.A. Monti is a freelance reporter for Trib Total Media.

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