CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – Rollercoaster weather this spring is having a devastating impact on summer crops.
At Johnston Farm in Valley View, Marty Johnston says a late frost in March followed by a lack of rain and dry hot conditions has wiped out their normally bountiful berries.
Now, they won’t have any available this season.
“The plants are stunted,” said Johnston. “You can see the dust, there’s no moisture and that’s getting serious for root growth, which is important to any crop, corn, soybeans and fruit like strawberries.”
The farm has been in the family since the late 1800’s. He says they haven’t seen a situation this serious since 1988.
Right now they’re hoping to salvage their corn crop, but they are advising the public to check back in July.
“We were due for a dry summer, but I didn’t think it’d be this bad,” said Johnston. “This is critical.”
It’s almost certainly already impacting prices.
Johnston said he saw a quart of strawberries priced at auction for $9 Monday night which would previously cost between $2.50 and $5.
As of Tuesday, it had not rained in Northeast Ohio for 17 days.
FOX 8 Meteorologist Andre Bernier said May was 1.5” below normal and June is 0.5” below normal as well.
Larger operations with extensive irrigation systems are also deeply concerned about their crops.
At the Red Wagon Farm in Columbia Station, owner Eric Ross said right now their crops are doing well but only with a lot of work and triple irrigation.
“We’re able to compensate for the lack of rain water, but it’s the heat last week that was difficult. It sucks everything out of the soil and plants really struggle,” said Ross. “The plants are suffering right now.”
He says they’re putting as much water as they can on the berries and closely monitoring sweet corn, which is their largest crop.
“A little nervous about it, but they seem to be holding up well so far,” said Ross.
Their country store is currently stocked well with fresh veggies and fruits, including strawberries, but he and many farmers are hoping and praying for rain soon to ensure a healthy harvest summer into fall.
“Once you get into a trend of dryness, it’s hard to break, but if we get light rain this weekend, that would be really nice to offset that,” said Ross.