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Local farms feeling impact of dry weather

Jul 21, 2016 12:05 am

Daniel Zuckerman and Victoria Addison are reporting in the Register-Star the state Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a drought watch statewide, for the first time since 2002. Lloyd Zimmermann, owner of Black Horse Farm in Athens, is taking the drought seriously; he said conditions are especially bad in Greene County. Zimmermann recently invested in an irrigation system and has an abundance of water to be used for crops, but said the cost was significant. "The price of produce will be high. I have no doubt,” he said. Zimmermann fears a prolonged drought could lead to local farms closing and would be particularly hard on young farmers. “Economically it will hurt the area and the state. We can’t afford to lose anymore farmers.” he said. Katy Lince, head gardener at Liberty Farms in Ghent said she has been dealing with the side effects of the drought since the end of June. Liberty grows a wide variety of organic vegetables and flowers, including beans, carrots, lettuce, sweet corn and spinach. Lince is concerned about the drought watch, even though it is not as bad as it could be. “My crops are already experiencing stress, so I’m already worried about it,” she said. Ron Bulich, owner of Creekside Farm in Leeds, said that while the drought will be bad, it is not much different from what the farm withstood last year. Still, because of the unusually warm winter Creekside was not able to grow peaches or plums this year. Bulich said the farm has nine miles of irrigation, but he worries about the potential for large storms ruining crops. “I’d rather have not enough water than way too much,” he said. At Holmquest Farms in Hudson, manmade ponds on the property are being used to water crops. “Sweet corn needs quite a bit of water when it’s in different stages. We are watering out of the pond, but right now the ponds are getting really, really low,” said farmer Terri Holmes. Read the full story in the Register-Star.