National Geographic November 1941 story on the historic black dirt region of Orange County, New York

The black dirt region of Orange County, New York, was featured in a very large article in the November 1941 issue. Here is that article uploaded with each page being an individual photo.

On the last page you see an older lady cutting up a potato to make seed … that woman is my dad’s grandmother, my great grandmother.



Fantastic article!

I forgot to post the link to this fantastic article in the Warwick Advertiser about Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt’s proclamation. I am still overwhelmed by it!

Thank you Annie

You do what you can ….

A few weeks ago it rained 6 inches over a roughly 4 day period. It was an extended “soaking rain,” not a fast downpour that ran off into the drainage ditches. Over the past month or so we have gotten close to 10 inches of rain, including nearly 2 early last week.

That is not good for crops. Many fields do not have proper drainage, for whatever reason, and you have subsequent sections and spots where the plants (in my case, onions) literally start to drown and suffocate from a lack of oxygen being available to the roots.

See this CCE newsletter, pages 2-3 for details: ImageImage

So, what can you do?

First, on June 28th I applied nitrogen to my most damaged fields.

Then, on Saturday and Sunday I went in with my Ac-G and duck hooks and hooked all of my wet spots, in an attempt to aerate the soil and dry the ground out.



As I mentioned in a previous blog post, we came within a hair of having another major flooding event with the Wallkill River. If we had gotten 7 or 8 inches of rain versus 6 or if the rain had come down in the form of a heavy downpour that mostly drained off versus slower rains that saturate the soil we probably would have seen an 8th “50 year flood.”

And that is an outrage because a river of that size should be able to handle a 7 or 8 inch rain event over a 4 day period. The reason why it can’t is because it has not been maintained. I and my neighbors cannot afford another flood of the magnitude and timing that occurred in 2011. If it happens again you can kiss most of the farming in the black dirt region goodbye!

It needs to stop raining now …

How mucky is the muck? Very mucky, very soggy, very boggy, very wet! It just keeps raining and raining and raining and raining. In less than a month we have gotten over 9 inches of rain.

Here is a recent YNN story I was in about the situation:

Here is recent Tracy Baxter story from the Times Herald-Record website:

Here is the video alone:

Every other year since 2005 we have either had a flood of some sort or excessive rains.

In 2005 we had 2 “50 year floods.”
In 2007 we had a “50 year flood.”
In 2009 we had an excessively wet June and July (see my submitted written testimony which you can download via this link for details on the effects of that rains:
In 2011 we had 2 “50 year floods.”
In 2013 we are excessively wet.

What exactly is happening to my onion crop? Essentially my onions in certain parts of my fields are drowning. They are turning yellow, they are melting down and not only not producing new leaves they are losing old foliage.

I will later today post photos.

What can I do about it? Not much. I can hook my fields in an attempt to try and dry them out. I’ve done that twice already but I can’t even think of doing that again until the ground dries out.

I can add fertilizer, particularly some form of nitrogen. I’ve done that once already.

I can add a foliar feed to my fungicide/insecticide spray package. I’ve done that once already as well.

Apart from that there is not much else I can do.

Welcome to the life of a farmer!

I’m on the news … again!

As Tropical Storm Andrea targeted our region I was interviewed by intrepid News 12 reporter Carolyn Rowe regarding the potential impacts of the storm. As I told her, anything under 5 inches we should be okay, but if we go above 5 or 7 inches I sadly expect the Wallkill to flood.

And that river should be able to handle 5 or 6 inches. It is a disgrace that it can’t.

Here is the link for the story on the internet:

Here it is on YouTube: