While it may have been a slow start to the year, the Wallkill Valley’s farmers are optimistic about this year’s harvest.
The year started out wet and rainy, which caused many farmers to delay planting their crops. Martin Nop, owner of Martin Nop Dairy Farm, LLC, said this was the first year he planted corn after the 4th of July. Jack Hoeffner, owner of Hoeffner Farms, estimates his crops are 10 days behind schedule.
Hoeffner said a late planting could be problematic if there is an early frost, however the growing season is going well so far.
Hoeffner said the delay in plantings might cause intermittent shortages during harvest. A low supply pushes the price of corn up. However, with the growing season not over yet, several farmers said the jury is still out on this year’s yields and profits.
Sue McGowan, owner of Twin Ponds Farm, said the combination of heat and a torrential downpour a couple weeks ago provided a welcome boost to the corn crop, pushing the stalks even higher.
Nop echoed McGowan’s sentiment, claiming the corn had a sudden growth spurt from the rain and heat. Despite the late plantings, Nop said his corn crop is growing well so far.
“Everything looks great as of now,” Nop said.
Some of the first plantings of corn at the Nop farm already reach eight feet. However, since corn plantings are often staggered, Nop said another section of their corn is only a foot high.
Each farmer uses their crops differently. For the McGowans, ears of corn are not as valuable as the corn stalk itself; the farm uses their corn field for their famous corn maze and permits a neighboring farmer to plant and harvest the corn. The farm also grows other crops to sell directly, such as cut flowers, pumpkins and produce. The Nops use their corn to feed their cows.
The Hoeffners sells their crops directly to the customer through their farm stand. The farm also sells surplus crops to markets in New York City. Hoeffner Farms grows about 20 different crops.
Another challenge that farmers who sell direct through farm stands face is increased competition. With the advent of various meal delivery services and other methods of purchasing produce, Hoeffner said he and other farmers have less customers visit their farms and farm stands.
“People have very good choices to buy produce today,” Hoeffner said.
The Hoeffner Farm has more than 100 years of experience in the farming business; the Montgomery location has been continuously farmed since 1917. Hoeffner said his grandparents moved to the farm’s current location from Queens County on Long Island, NY, that year. His grandparents were third-generation farmers.
With so many years of experience, Hoeffner said he is confident the farm can survive the years’ weather variations.
“We have 100 years of experience adjusting to these conditions,” Hoeffner said. “We know how to deal with these conditions.”