Local farmers hurt by extreme temperatures and rainy conditions
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Michiana is settling into a dry stretch, but farmers across the region say they’ve been hurt by extreme temperatures and rainy conditions.
A cold and wet spring stopped local farmers from getting into their fields to plant.
“You couldn’t plant anything. Kinda run around and find a spot that was dry,” said Benton Harbor grower Sandi Sommerfeldt. “What we did plant was affected by no sun, no heat, so a lot of things were either replanted or never planted at all.”
And, extreme temperatures during the polar vortex in the winter didn’t help either.
“We lost our peaches and our wine grapes,” explained the manager at Lehman’s Orchard Steve Lecklider.
Sommerfeldt owns a market in Benton Harbor. She says she is only selling less than half of the crops that she normally does. “The quantities just aren’t here. So I’m sourcing from my neighbors that have extra if they have it, if not, we don’t have it.”
One crop Somerfeldt simply doesn’t have – peaches. Peaches are normally a quarter of her business.
“There are none, so this is the first time since we’ve ever been open that we had to buy an out of state peach,” she said.
Somerfeldt says some disappointed customers won’t even buy her out of state peaches.
“Cause everyone comes to Michigan for peaches.”
Steve Lecklider with Lehman’s Orchard in Niles says his lost peach crop is a setback.
“We plan to lose some sort of fruit crop every year, but the peach crop is a major crop for us and so it definitely sets us back a little bit during the season,” he said.
The rollercoaster weather has caused Somerfeldt to raise prices on a few of her crops.
“Some of it’s up to a dollar more this year,” she explained. “There’s a lot of costs that’s involved in it ya know, it’s not, we don’t just put it out there and it grows and jumps on the table.”
Farmers all across southwest Michigan are dealing with the same hardships, so they do ask one thing of you this summer.
“Stop at any local farm stand, because everybody needs that support this year,” said Somerfeldt.
That rainy weather did actually help some fruit farmers. Lecklider says his tart cherries and various berry crops were bountiful.
As Michiana faces a stretch of drier weather, farmers tell ABC57 that soybean and corn farmers will be negatively impacted.