Local Farmers Say Spring Weather Has Sent Wrong Signal to Plants

Sunday, February 26, 2012

spring5.jpg Now blooming

Spring officially begins next month, but uncharacteristically warm winter is sending a different signal to the area’s plants, according to local farmers.

Ken Migliorelli of Migliorelli Farm in upstate  New York said it’s the warmest season he’s experienced since 2010, when trees were in full bloom by mid-April, nearly a month premature. The sap in the trees on his Tivoli, N.Y. farm have started to flow, he said, setting the stage for early budding.

“When it gets to a certain temp, you'll lose buds, which [means] you'll end up losing fruit,” Migliorelli said.

But there is an upside to the warmer weather: more foot traffic through the city’s farmer’s markets. Migliorelli says he’s seen a 30 percent sales jump over the previous winter, and he’s already planting spring vegetables.

"We actually planted peas February 20,” Fargione said. “And that's the earliest I've ever put peas in the ground.”

Researchers say they’ll be studying what long-lasting effects — if any — this winter will have on area growers. But right now, there’s not much farmers can do but watch and wait says, Michael Fargione, a Regional Fruit Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County.

“If we have a very early spring, the odds we will have of killing frost after tree growth has started is higher,” Fargione said. “There's no way to predict whether that's going to be the case.”

But after flooding caused by Tropical Storms Irene and Lee last year, local farmers say the mild  winter has given them a chance to recover and reassess.

John Gorzynski, who has owned Gorzynski Farms since 1976, said he lost about 70 percent of his crops in the flooding that  followed the storms. An winter with barely any snow on the ground or ice on the lakes and rivers  has allowed him to get back to work, he said.

“It’s given us time during the winter months when you can't be doing restoration type work to be doing that type of work,” Gorzynski said. “Putting the fields back together again, and getting debris removed and fences back up.”


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Comments [1]

abby from Hudson Valley,+we%27re+never+giving+up

Life after irene, we're never giving up
by Abby Luby
Issue 56 (December 11-February 12)
[ Copyright © 2011, The Valley Table]
Great floods mark history. Indelible, they cling to
personal memory, passed down through generations, each account replaying the
devastation --extreme water levels, uprooted forests and orchards, deluged swamps , fields
becoming lakes, roads turning into rivers-- and the lives of families, communities and
businesses drastically changed .
Late last summer, Hurricane Irene claimed its place as one of the most destructive storms
in this century or the last. On its heels, Irene was quickly chased by the torrential rains of
Tropical Storm Lee. The storms dealt a one-two punch to the Hudson Valley, hitting
farmers hardest because they swept through at the peak of the harvest. Sprawling fields of
ripe vegetables disappeared under vast stretches of water, access roads and culverts
became torrents, and picturesque brooks and rivulets became raging, boulder-rolling rivers.
Vegetables and fruits were either saturated or drowned- -most of those that could be
rescued suffered from rot. Farmers, poised for the busiest time of year, found their lives at
a standstill.

Feb. 26 2012 05:45 PM

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