Franklin farmers worried about corn crop

July 01, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - As he glanced up at Monday's partly cloudy skies, Waynesboro, Pa., dairy farmer Joe Middour said he's growing more worried about his 225 acres of corn as each clear day passes by.

"We are certainly critical right now for the corn crop to get some rain," said Middour, whose family has farmed on Tomstown Road since 1814.

Short of doing a rain dance, farmers in the area are hoping that showers predicted for today and Wednesday are enough to save crops that are withering under several weeks of hot, dry weather.


"We're hoping to get saved by some rain this afternoon or tonight," said Rod Hissong, who works with his father and brother on their Mercersburg, Pa. dairy farm.

"The corn started to roll last week," he added, describing the way the leaves curl up on corn plants when they get too dry.

Farm stand owners are concerned that the county's sweet corn crop, usually ready for harvest by mid-July, won't yield much in the dry conditions unless it's been irrigated.

"The growth will probably be stunted. It will really help if we get some rain," said an employee at Apple Blossom Dairy farm market in Waynesboro.

National Weather Service Hydrologist Melody Hall said the area received below-normal rainfall for June, registering a half-inch short of the normal 3.9-inch rainfall.

But some areas reportedly received even less than that.

"It was scattered," Hall said. "A lot of the heavier rains fell south of Hagerstown."

Rain showers are expected to pass through the area today and Wednesday, Hall said.

"We've heard that before," Middour said, chuckling.

Last year, Franklin County crops had poor yields because there was too much rain.

"Farmers are always complaining. We're just never satisfied," joked Chambersburg dairy farmer Henry Brechbill, of Mont Alto Road, who was hard-pressed to remember the last time it rained.

"I think we got about a tenth of an inch last week," he said after pausing to think for a minute. He said his crops haven't received a substantial rain all month.

A field of corn off of Welty Road in Waynesboro was getting a good soaking compliments of an irrigation system.

But few farmers have the water resources to irrigate.

"If we did, we'd probably attempt it right about now," said Brechbill, who has 200 acres of corn planted.

"We just have to wait one way or the other and sweat it out," Middour said. "One of the challenges of being a farmer is adjusting to the weather and making the best of the situation. But it's discouraging upon occasion."

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