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Farmers feeling new effects of summer drought.

Posted at 10:21 AM, Sep 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-15 19:07:23-04

As if it wasn't hard enough for local fruit farmers dealing with the summer drought, some are now having a challenging time selling their fruit because the drought caused things like peaches to grow much smaller.

"I take it to market and people turn their noses up because of size," said Sandra Sanger, co-owner of Sanger Farms in Youngstown.

"We want people to know that just because the fruit is smaller it doesn't affect taste.  They actually seem sweeter this year," added Sanger.

Due to the summer drought, early season peaches grew much smaller that normal, and even though they have good taste, customers are not interested in buying them.

"Small peaches won't sell," said Michael Tuck, co-owner of Sanger Farm, who added that many small peaches were just left on the trees.

As to the ones that were picked, the Sanger Farm is using them to make pies, bread and jam.  There is also a first-time effort underway to try and sell them to a vodka distillery in Buffalo.

"It is something new and uncharted for us," explained Michael Tuck.  After all the work it took to grow the peaches, Tuck said having them go to waste is something that is trying to be avoided.

Selling the small fruit is not the the only problem for local farmers.  The drought also killed off many young fruit trees - especially peach trees.  Those will now have to be replaced but it could take up to seven years for peach trees to start producing full fruit.

"We just have to replant and hope for a better year," said Sandra Tuck.

Farmers like the Tucks are hoping the public will make an extra effort to buy local produce this year because of the challenges that farmers are going through with the weather.

However, there is some good news.  Recent rain helped the late season peaches get bigger and it appears that there should be a good apple harvest, even though some varieties might be a bit smaller this year.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly headed to Niagara County for the last week of peach harvesting to talk with farmers about the problems.