Heavy Rain Hurts South Jersey Farmers, Consumers

While it’s normally a welcome sight for farmers, this year’s record rain of 7 and a half inches has caused more harm than good for crops in South Jersey.

Judy DeFiccio of Pineland Farms in Hammonton, NJ, says her blueberries have been soaked in so much rain that the skin splits wide open. Her rows of corn will also harvest late due to essential nutrients in the soil being washed away during the afternoon downpours.

“You don’t see much water actually laying in the rows,” she said. “But when it rained, it literally washed everything out and it looked like a beach.”

She also says her rows of squash are wiped out by moisture and mold.

“There’s only so much you can do with fungicides,” she said. “The problem is we can’t get into the field to even apply them because it’s so wet.”

While DeFiccio says the fruits and vegetables won’t taste any different this year, she also says the yield or volume will be less than it has been in the past.

“When they picked ten or 20 bushels of squash in the day, now you’re picking three,” she said.

Due to the shortage from New Jersey this year, other states are picking up the slack. Sue McGrath only found Georgia corn while shopping at Bagliani’s Market in Hammonton on Tuesday.

“I know Jersey corn is out,” she said. “It’s the best. I’m going to go look now and see if I can get some.”

Dan Pauro, the produce manager at Bagliani’s, says some of the produce will cost more this season due to the shortage.  Last year they sold squash at $.50 a pound compared to $1.50 a pound this year.

“The squash, the cucumbers and the berries will cost more,” he said. “A lot of stuff is not drying out. It’s harder to get and the price is going to keep going up as the weather persists.”

DeFiccio says she’s anxious for some relief from the rain.

“It hurts us,” she said. “It will probably hurt the consumer somewhere down the road. Either by way of price or by way of lack of a local product that they would like to buy.”


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