Although May's rainfall was well above normal in the Altoona area, the spring of 2012 has not been nearly as disruptive to area farmers as last spring.
"Last year, farmers in some parts of the state were three or four weeks behind in their planting because of all of the rain. This year many of the farmers got a head start because April was so mild," said Mark O'Neill, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau spokesman. "There has been wetter weather in some areas."
Altoona received 5.44 inches of rainfall in May, compared with normal rainfall of 3.63 inches. That followed a dry April when only 0.87 inches fell, compared with a normal of 3.28 inches, said National Weather Service meteorologist Aaron Tyburski.
Rainfall is well below normal for the first five months of the year - 9.91 inches compared to a normal 14.5 inches, Tyburski said.
"In the Morrisons Cove area, we were able to get crops planted before the heavy rains came," said Phil Kulp, co-owner of Kulp Family Dairy LLC, Martinsburg. "Last year was super wet, but this year we had some dry weather so we could get our crops planted in a timely fashion."
"Planting was about complete before it got too wet. We had about 80 percent of the corn and soybeans planted," said Gary Long, Blair County Farm Bureau president.
Last weekend's heavy rains caused some problems in Cambria County.
"On Saturday and Sunday we had some widely scattered storms with heavy downpours and high winds. Those are the kind of storms farmers never want to see in the spring before the crops get established and fields are covered and well rooted," said Marty Yahner, co-owner of Yahner Bros. Farm, Patton. "That causes soil erosion and washes the soil down into creeks and onto the highways, and not the fields where it belongs.
"When you get 3 inches of rain in 20 minutes to an hour, it is tough," he added.
The sweet corn crop in Sinking Valley is way ahead of normal schedule.
"The corn crops looks good, but there could be some gaps in sweet corn because of the cold temperatures in late April. There are producers who have tasseling with ears and some who are just getting started," said Tom Ford, commercial horticulture educator for Penn State Cooperative Extension.
There are also some issues with pests in the corn and soybean crops.
"We've had some problems with Army worms hitting the corn and pastures in Sinking Valley. They are a caterpillar that chews the corn plants and grass blades," Ford said. "If not controlled, they can do damage to the corn crop and hay fields."
Long said the soybean crop has been growing fast but so are the bugs.
"The insects are hitting us very hard. We are trying to save the plants so we don't lose them. The bugs are already eating the soybeans. We have replanted about 5 percent. We could lose one third to one-half of the soybean crop if we don't stay after the bugs," Long said. "They love the cold, damp, wet weather, and they are having a good time."
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at