Thursday, December 18, 2014


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Onion Farmer Says Severe Weather Hurting Crops

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Rochester: Onion Farmer Says Severe Weather Hurting Crops
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High winds and lots of rain in recent weeks have made it very difficult for area farmers. YNN's Rose Eiklor reports on Mother Nature's impact on this year's onion crop.

ELBA, N.Y. — "A perfect season would start out cool and dry, no wind and progressively getting warmer. You need about an inch of rain a week, but no hard rain, no hail. The problem is you never get that perfect season, but right now we are so far out," said Paul Mortellaro.

Mortellaro's family has been growing, packaging and selling onions for a half century. This spring's colder temperatures, soaking rains, and wind storms have resulted in some lost crops.

"I can show you fields out there that lost 30 percent of the onions because of wind," said Mortellaro.

He said onions are usually ready to be harvested in July, but this year they may be waiting until mid-August.

"Not a lot you can do. You pump out all the excess water, but it's like a sponge, you can't squeeze out all the soil. It's a waiting game. You need relative humidity, sunshine and wind and that will carry out the residual moisture," said Mortellaro.

If the onions are underwater for 48 hours, Mortellaro says they will not continue to grow, so the amount of crop to be harvested is still not certain.

"They had a potential of a certain yield and now we have to lower that bar, and then if we get more weather, it keeps dropping," said Mortellaro.

In 50 years of growing onions, this farm's 2013 yield will be below average. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP