Ohio farmers fighting dangerously dry conditions

7:46 PM, Jul 9, 2012   |    comments
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PENISULA -- A new USDA report shows more than 36 percent of Ohio's corn crop is in poor or very poor condition after too many dry days and too much heat.

It's only the second week of July, but it's time to pull out the butter and salt. Szalay's Sweet Corn and Vegetable Farm says the corn is ready.

"It's the earliest it's ever been in all the years that we've been in business. And that's been about 81 years!" said owner Paula Szalay.

"It's sweet, it's fresh. It's fresh picked everyday so that's what we enjoy about it," said shopper Becky Kuhnz.

While Szalay's sweet corn may taste as good as ever, it's been an unusual season from the start after nearly 15 percent of the crop was lost to a late freeze.

"We were out in the field checking it every morning and we were very nervous, wondering if it was going to get worse or better," said Szalay.

It's gotten drier and hotter than expected, but the farm's high water table in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park has kept them in the green.

"It has probably hurt some of the other farmers severely, but ours has been able to pull through because of that water level," she said.

"Farmers have a saying: A dry year can hurt you, but a wet year can kill you," said Eric Walters. Walters owns Basket of Life farm, which provides weekly produce baskets for more than 100 families.

This month he'll use nearly 100,000 gallons of water through drip irrigation lines to keep the vegetables growing.

"Expect plenty of tomatoes, peppers and zucchini, and probably melons. They all love the really hot, dry weather as long as they are getting watered," he said.

One thing you may also expect: higher prices.

A state Drought Assessment Committee is still surveying the damage, but if drought continues, even federal disaster assistance funds could be available to help farmers with lost crops.

The rules of supply and demand mean what crops do make it to market might cost you more.


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