October 21, 2021

Ready for ‘whatever happens’

Local farmers prepare for warmer-than-average spring temps

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Keegan Bush, left, Paul Jensen and Anthony Paolini transplant onions Monday at Main Street Farms in Cortland. Despite last week’s snow, temperatures are expected to be higher-than-normal this spring.

When Ithaca Organics owner Trever Sherman learned that this spring had been projected to be warmer than average, he laughed, considering last spring was hot and dry.

“We’re pretty much prepared for whatever happens,” the Freeville farm owner said.

Even as snow dusted parts of the county last week, farmers said they are fluid in adjusting to the weather, including a warmer-than-average spring.

Temperatures for spring will be higher than average due to less cold air coming south from Canada, said Theodore Champney, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Binghamton.

Average temperatures for April are high temperatures in the 50s or low 60s and low temperatures in the 30s, Champney said.

This year, average temperatures are expected to be almost one degree higher than normal.

“April is a transition month,” he said. “You usually have wild swings in temperatures.”

While snow and cold temps arrived last week, that is normal, he said.

This week, the temperatures Wednesday and Thursday could reach into the 70s.

May will likely see highs in the mid 60s and lows in the mid-40s while June will see a roughly 10 degree jump into the 70s for a high temperature and low 50s for low temperature.

Warmer weather means a greater focus on irrigation of plants, Sherman said.

To accommodate for this, he has been working to lay drip lines — plastic tubes that line fields and drip water for plants.

“If it does get drier, we’ll be able to battle it,” he said.

Weather swings recently haven’t had a big impact as Sherman said he hasn’t planted a lot of crops in the fields but will start doing so this week.

Warmer weather also means the soil is drier and planting can happen sooner, said Robert “Bobcat” Bonagura, an owner of Main Street Farms in the greater Cortland area.

This results in a bigger yield, he said.

With temperature and weather condition fluctuations, “Every year is different,” he said.

The recent snow and cold has caused a few days of delay but like Sherman, Bonagura said planting happens toward the end of April at his farm.

Sherman and Bonagura said they weren’t sure what to expect this spring for the long term.

“I’m always hopeful for spring,” Bonagura said.