Wet weather puts damper on organic produce

July 9, 2013 9:00:00 PM PDT
The recent heavy rains are creating problems for farmers across the Triangle, especially small organic farmers.

One farmer in Raleigh told ABC11 that all the rain we've had is causing pest problems, and also flooding the crops.

"We do kale and tomatoes and peppers and okra and cucumbers," said organic farmer Daniel Whitaker. "Those are likely to pick up mildew, rust on the leaves. All sorts of rot issues."

Whitaker says heavy rains are wreaking havoc on the land he farms.

"We're about double what we normally are for the last 30 days," said Whitaker.

The rain is causing his half acre of crop on the N.C. State Agroecology land to not produce its usual yield.

"We've lost probably 30 or 40 percent of what we were hoping to actually harvest," said Whitaker.

It's a problem for smaller organic farms in particular that don't have runoff trenches or resources to cover crops, which protecting against pesky insects, mildew or mold.

"We can put a fungicide that's organically based, but if we spray it on there and the rain hits it that same day, we basically waste very expensive organic product," said Whitaker.

"Those increased rains can wash away a lot of those nutrients that are within that profile that they're looking to exploit in term of the flavor of their produce," said Stephen Ratasky, the farm manager with N.C. State Agroecology.

Ratasky says even though the produce is edible the bottom line is no one wants to buy it.

"If we don't get these out of the field before they split, this is an unmarketable product," said Ratasky.

 "I would say it's a problem for every farmer, not just organic farmers -- same issue," said Whitaker.

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