Editor’s note: There are 27 Pennsylvania counties under this watch, including Berks.
Keith Hilliard has been watching the sky from his farm in Sugarloaf Township, hoping for rain.
Hilliard hasn’t seen the weather he’d like so far this spring.
The dry weather helped him plant seeds, but now, “if we don’t get any rain, it will affect those crops pretty quickly,” he said.
Some crops are worth irrigating for Hilliard, president of the Luzerne County Farm Bureau. Others won’t offer enough return on his investment. About 40 percent of his hay crop has already been affected by the dry weather.
“There’s not a whole lot you can do with a lack of rain,” he said.
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Unofficially, summer 2013 will go down as perhaps the wettest on record in the Philadelphia region, borne out by rainfall totals from Chester County.
From June 1 to Aug. 31, the National Weather Service at Mount Holly, N.J., recorded 22.18 inches of rainfall, according to Jim Bunker, an observation program leader at the facility. It rained 10.56 inches in June, a stunning 13.24 inches in July and 5.91 inches in August, he said in an interview Friday.
That is in stark contrast to the normal amount of precipitation in those three months of 11.28 inches in Philadelphia, Bunker said. Although he indicated that the rainfall was the most recorded in the city, he could not find the previous maximum figure.
The region has experienced 36.55 inches of rain in 2013, significantly above the normal amount of 28.76 inches, Bunker said.
Who would have ever thought proximity to Route 422 would be a litmus test for a good corn crop? Certainly not I. However, that is the case in Berks County. Farms south of 422 are in good shape and farms north of 422 are suffering.
July’s above normal temperatures, coupled with a lack of rain has caused tremendous damage to corn crops in Berks County located north of 422. Farms south of 422 received more rain and the clay-like soil holds moisture better. Most farms in Berks County do not use irrigation to water crops.
Berks County is not the only place where the corn crop is doing poorly. Nationwide it is estimated that corn yields will be down 40 percent! This translates into higher prices at the supermarket for you and I!
Another casualty of the heat has been milk production. Cows do not like heat (sounds familiar) and when they are hot they eat less and produce less milk!