LOWER SWATARA TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — The first week of September has been a wet week in the Midstate, and it has been a much-needed break from the heat. Farmers, however, are especially grateful for the rainfall.
Workers at Strites Orchard in Lower Swatara Township said the rain has been helpful for crops they wait until October to pick.
“It was needed,” said John Strite, co-owner of Strites Orchard. “Since June, we might have had a total of three inches of rain. Just the past two days now, I looked at my rain gauge, we just got three inches.”
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Strites Orchard irrigates their crops, so the stretch of dry weather wasn’t detrimental to their harvest, but the farm still felt the effects. “Our irrigation ponds were getting low,” said Strite.
The rain helps crops that are still in the ground the most, like sweet corn, which will not be picked until into October.
“This will really help those later planting size up, so we should have very nice ears of sweet corn,” Strite added.
A lot of rain can run the risk of standing water, which can lead to rotting crops, but Strite said the recent rainfall came slowly, avoiding pooling in the fields.
“Our ground was so dry, I think it pretty much soaked this up like a sponge,” he said.
For home gardeners, Strite says to not get too excited about the rain.
“If you try to get into your gardens or whatever too quickly after rain like this, you can actually compact the soil, which is bad for it and makes it hard, almost like concrete,” he said.
Kale and cabbage plants are viable options heading into the fall planting season, as “they should have color all winter,” said Strite. For people looking for flowers, mums are a good option.
Strite doesn’t have much planting to do other than spinach in October, but he is still preparing for what should be a busy fall season.
“This is one of our busiest seasons because we do a lot of you pick, like apples and pumpkins in the fall, we have a corn maze too,” said Strite.
Strite added he is hoping for more cool weather ahead, particularly cooler nights. He said it makes for better color in their apples just ahead of apple-picking season.