Lack of Rain Causing Problems for Local Farmers

July 2, 2012 Updated Jul 2, 2012 at 5:44 PM EDT

By WKBW News

July 2, 2012 Updated Jul 2, 2012 at 5:44 PM EDT

NIAGARA COUNTY (WKBW) Weeks of hot and dry weather across Western New York has not diminished crops for local farmers, but instead has just making them work a lot harder to grow them, with a lot more water.

Melinda Vizcarra opens the hydrant and watches the meter turn, pumping hundreds of gallons of water onto the fields at Becker Farms in Niagara County.

"It's always challenging because the weather is always different. And this year, we've already been irrigating in June what we would normally expect to irrigate in July or August," Vizcarra said.

Weeks of hot temps and very little rainfall have left many farmers with no choice but to water their own crops without the help of mother nature. That translates into much higher costs to pay for the labor and all that water.

"The water is from the city water supply, from the hydrants. So we're paying for that water just like anyone would pay in their home. Of course it's a lot more water that you use," Vizcarra said.

"We're fortunate, we do have irrigation ponds, but they're about dry. We are starting to buy some water off the county system to keep things going," Nathan Harris of Harris Farms added.

Farmers also recognized that with added cost in growing all the fruits and vegetables, that they must now pass along price increases to customers or potentially take a big loss.

"You just have to do your best and hope the market responds accordingly," Harris said.

"People don't realize that we're the gamblers. We put out all our money to produce a crop and hope the rains come on time, and hope there is no frost, and hope there is a market for them. And some years it is good, some years it is real bad, others it's ok and we all get by," Vizcarra added.