How the Weather is Affecting Harvests Across the Country
In January of 2018, farmers across parts of Florida, Georgia, and other southern states reported some abnormalities when it came to their crops. Low temperatures and wintry precipitation – both of which are rather unusual in this part of the country – kept farmers on their toes. Even out in California, growers have dealt with flooding and mudslides that have devastated some of their crops, as well.
Florida & Georgia
Florida has experienced an exceptionally wet season, and this has made the harvest a slow task. What’s more, increases in precipitation also leave plants susceptible to disease, which can wipe out entire crops just weeks before harvest. Some of Florida’s crops survived the cold, but others, like green beans, corn, cucumbers, and squash, didn’t fare as well. Florida growers have experienced significant loss when it comes to crops like oranges, but others, like the lettuce crop, are expected to fare very well. In Florida, which experienced record snowfall and cold temperatures in 2017/2018, farmers may start considering more weather-tolerant crops
Georgia’s pecan industry was expected to take a hit after back-to-back hurricanes, but fortunately, this was not the case whatsoever. Despite some farmers losing a significant portion of their trees, limbs, or even nuts, the overall harvest for Georgia was good.
In places like New York, Pennsylvania, and others, business has been slow at the start of 2018 due to weather. However, this isn’t due to the weather’s direct impact on the crops themselves – it is due to the inability to transport harvested crops from one location to the next. With everything from having to pull over in whiteout conditions or equipment just giving up in the extreme weather, business in this part of the country has been down quite a bit.
This is compounded by the fact that consumers simply do not get out as often when wintry precipitation is forecast. Even when the products make it to market, consumers simply are not there to buy them. They are at home, off the roads where it is safe and warm.
Farmers in the Midwest have had a rough season, too. In fact, some farms in Indiana have experienced so much rainfall, their initial crops had to be removed and replanted. Some growers completely replanted their corn crops from scratch just to make ends meet. Rain throughout May, June, and July in 2017 caused tremendous flooding, and then the lack of rain in August and September created yields nowhere near what growers were expecting.
However, further out to the west in Iowa, farmers are experiencing above-average yields for some crops and below-average yields for others. Here, corn was up 12% from the year prior, but soybeans came down about 8% from the previous year. Iowa farmers claim, once again, that the heavy rain had the hardest impact on soybeans. With heavy rains, farmers cannot get out into the fields to harvest on time, which does lead to some yield loss.
Of course, in California, the fear of drought still looms, especially since this winter has provided only 30% of the average annual snowpack farmers rely upon to irrigate their crops. Here, new technologies and drought-resistant seeds may be the only way to guarantee successful crops in the future.