Poor crops in Mercer County a result of unseasonable weather this year.

Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 7:13 PM EDT
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Matoka, W.Va. (WVVA) - Van Wysong is a local gardener in Mercer County. He’s been caring for crops since he was six years old, and in his sixty years of experience, he hasn’t seen a growing season quite like this.

When Van woke up this morning, it felt like an early spring day.

“It was something like, this is the 8th day of June, and it was forty six degrees when I got up this morning. And this is June.”

“The only thing this season that has tolerated the weather, is cabbage, potatoes, and the broccoli has done fairly well.”

Colder temperatures at night are only one of the many reasons for the area’s failing crops.

Another would be the excessive rainfall during the month of May, which put it as the 5th wettest on record.

Van says “When you get too much rainfall, other than dropping the ground temperature, the ground gets a lot heavier. And then when it dries, it compacts this ground so hard, that those beans couldn’t get up through it.”

Another odd factor, and one that we don’t see very often in the Two Virginias, would be the smoke brought in from wildfires in Canada, causing a lack of sunlight.

These three things inhibit a plant’s natural ability to draw in moisture.

Van says “If you’re not successful in growing a healthy root structure for any plant. You’re not going to be successful in harvesting a good crop from it. And that’s what this weather has done.”

A good root system is important for plants, because without it, you put crops at risk of drying out.

Van says “Wind damage can actually cut your crops, if you get enough of it. The wind dries up the water molecules in this tomato, and now this tomato is on a limited root structure.”

Without sunlight and water, plants have a difficult time photosynthesizing, which is how they eat and grow.