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Lack of rainfall hurting lawns and crops

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

ORISKANY, N.Y. (WKTV) - NEWSChannel 2's meteorologists say that the Mohawk Valley is 6 inches below normal when it comes to rainfall for the season, with less than a tenth of an inch of rain in the month of July. The dry weather is hurting lawns and crops across the state, especially for field farmers.

"Our hay crop here, locally, is usually cut three times a season," says Cornell Cooperative Extension Educator Jeff Miller. "First harvest was okay, this harvest right now is just like most people's lawns. Hasn't really re-grown, so lot of yield loss."

Miller says crop-eating pests called potato leafhoppers are also adding to the loss. The bugs are attracted to dry, warm weather and leave deadly toxins on plants.

The crop people might notice the most could be with this season's corn.

"Corn is coming into that reproductive phase right now and it can affect pollination," Miller says. "If you don't have good pollination, you can picture going to get some sweet corn, you unwrap it and what happens, you look at the ear and there's very few kernels."

However, not all farmers are hurting. Miller says that fruit and vegetable producers with less land are doing well because they're able to water on their own.

"In fact, some of the folks said best strawberry year ever, definitely going into blueberries right now, blueberries just off the wall," says Miller. "And I already got squash from my neighbors because we have so much of it."

With the heat expected to increase and no rain in site until early next week, the best thing to do is keep watering plants. Cornell Cooperative Extension suggests that instead of watering plants lightly every day, to water them thoroughly every few days. They suggest placing a can in the center of your garden and waiting until the can is one inch deep with water before turning the sprinkler off.

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