What a fabulous year this has been for Suffield farmers. The weather was about as perfect as it gets, except for the soggy spring. We got plenty of warm sunny days, and rain came when it was needed. Irrigation of crops was very limited all summer. The weather has continued to cooperate this fall with warm dry days that make for good tobacco curing in the sheds. As the first crops are being taken down in the shed, they look sound. No mold, no rot and strong leaves are what framers strive for.
Tobacco crop sales will be at a premium this fall. There were few diseases, molds and spotting this season. The tobacco crops were not as large as some years, but smaller plants also can mean a cleaner harvest. The past few years have been difficult, producing fair to poor crops. This has been a bonus year; where hard work has paid off.
The cost of farming is increasing each year. With the cost of labor, taxes and maintenance, the farmers are feeling the pinch. Farmers need to be flexible about what they raise, how they raise it and where the work force stands.
Farm buildings are expensive to maintain or replace. When those options are not prudent, some buildings need to be razed. The tobacco shed on the Thrall Farm in Windsor, off of Route 20, is an example of this. The farmers have to make business decisions that are not always popular. The Thralls will have a much reduced tax bill next year.
The talk of hemp being raised in Suffield is becoming more common. Local farmers are attending informational meetings to see what that crop entails. There are multiple products that are made from hemp, and each requires a different approach. From what I have gathered, hemp can be a challenging crop.
If the tobacco business goes sour, some farmers may consider hemp as a crop. Hemp also has to be dried in sheds, so maybe tobacco sheds could be converted to accommodate more hemp and less tobacco.