Snow A Plus For Farms — However …

Most Eager To Get To Work

Posted: March 27, 2013

Corn stubble pokes through a snow-covered field along Meems Bottom in Shenandoah County Tuesday afternoon. Although farmers appreciate the moisture provided by recent snowstorms, they would be happy for it to stop now and let them get back to their chores. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
HARRISONBURG — While a wave of late winter and early spring snowstorms has caused some aggravation for central Valley farmers, it’s still a positive overall for agriculture, many producers say.

No local farmers have reported barn or poultry house collapses, which came as a surprise to some ag leaders. In addition, the precipitation has brought much-needed moisture to the soil.

But now it’s starting to get a little old.

“As we head into the end of March, now we’ll get antsy if we can’t get out there and do a little more fieldwork,” said Bob Threewitts, board member and past president of the Rockingham County Farm Bureau, as well as a Keezletown farmer.

Threewitts is slightly behind on fieldwork he usually completes during March, such as spreading litter and applying lime, because messy weather conditions haven’t allowed him to do as much.

“We’re not so worried about [the weather], but we’d like for it to change,” he said.

Like many local cattle producers, Threewitts is now in calving season. His cows have birthed about 75 to 80 cows this month, all of which survived the manic weather.

Mark Deavers, a beef cattle and crop producer in the Dayton area, didn’t have the same luck, however.

“I’ve lost one calf due to [the weather],” he said. “She calved in the middle of the night, the wind was blowing [and] I think [the calf] froze to death. …  Very seldom do I lose a calf.”

Cattle growers in the middle of calving are the farmers most harmed by the weather, he said.

Tim Cline, crop consultant with Weyers Cave-based Houff’s Feed and Fertilizer, said the snowfall has hindered the company a bit, as well.

“We are moving along but …  we are still waiting on [the] cooperation of Mother Nature so that we can get back in the fields again,” he said, but added that the moisture is helpful.

“It’s better to have the moisture than not to have it,” Cline said. “It may slow things down a little …  [but] it’s much better to have it this late than to be dry.”

As long as the heavy precipitation comes to a halt in April, when local farmers start to prepare for corn planting, March’s erratic weather will go down as a benefit, according to John Welsh, local extension agent.

Contact Candace Sipos at 574-6275 or csipos@dnronline.com



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