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In short supply — Spring cold snap delays sweet corn

Some area farmers ‘a month behind’

Sweet corn lovers again will have to wait to enjoy their summer treat from local growers.

Sweet corn is a big business and is included in the overall figure for vegetable production, which is $1.2 million for Blair County and $187 million statewide, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Also according to that census, there were 15 farms in Blair County that grow sweet corn and 1,672 statewide.

“The cold snap in May killed some early sweet corn or at least severely damaged it despite being started under plastic. There may be a little corn around by July 4, but most growers will not start to see a regular supply until July 12,” said Thomas G. Ford, commercial horticulture educator, Penn State Extension, Cambria County office.

Others expect the crop to be even later.

“From what I’ve seen in the valley, corn under plastic, which the Amish do, will be a little late. There will be none around July 4. My corn will probably be after the 25th. It is four to five weeks out due to the cold in April and May. There will be a shortage out front. It will not be in abundance,” said Gary Long, who plants 8 acres of sweet corn in Sinking Valley. “It will be a good corn crop, but we need to be patient. We are now getting the heat and water, and it is growing fast.”

Kelly Baronner, co-owner of Baronner’s Farm Market, Hollidaysburg, doesn’t expect their corn to be ready until late July.

“It is all up to Mother Nature. It will be later than last year due to the nasty weather. The crop looks very healthy with an excellent stand of corn this year. When it is ready, it will be on our answering machine,” said Baronner, who said her son, Robert Baronner II, is taking over the operation this year with mentoring from her and husband, Robert.

Sam Weyant, owner of Sam Weyant Berry and Vegetable Farms, Claysburg, doesn’t expect corn until August.

“We are a month behind. I put some in April 12, then it got cold and snowed. I don’t believe I will have any corn until the first week of August. My first corn didn’t have a chance, but the rest looks good. Now we are bone dry in Claysburg. If not for irrigation, we would have nothing,” Weyant said.

This year’s crop should be good, said Liam Migdail, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau spokesman.

“The good news is that since the weather has warmed up, growing conditions have been favorable so area farmers are expecting a high-quality and bountiful crop this season,” Migdail said.

Meanwhile, other crops have been affected by the weather.

Ford said some growers lost their early tomato plantings in mid-May.

“Two growers told me they lost 1,200 plus tomato plants in the field due to frost,” Ford said.” Essentially all warm season crops are behind schedule due to the freeze in March.”

Ford said the strawberry crop was hammered by the May freeze events.

“Most growers lost their primary flowers and had to rely on secondary and tertiary flowers to prevail. We won’t know what the final harvest numbers will be, but our local growers estimated that they lost between 30 and 50 percent of their crop due to the May freeze,” Ford said.

Ford also said peaches, plums, nectarines and cherries may be in short supply locally, and one large grower indicated that they may not have a single red delicious apple harvested from their farm this year.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

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