CARTHAGE, N.Y. (WWTI) — Dying plants and bone-dry fields.

North Country farmers have faced dry weather this spring which has made for a rough start to the 2023 growing season.

These conditions have altered operations at Bush Gardens, a massive produce farm in Carthage.

“We’ve actually stopped planting because it’s so dry and started drawing water out of the pond to water what we did have planted,” Bush Gardens Owner Loren Bush said. “15 years on the farm and this is only the second time that we’ve actually had to water. Typically the ground here stays wet most of the summer. Even on a dry year.”

Colder nights in June also hit the farm hard. Bush is also concerned about how the recent unhealthy air quality due to Canadian wildfire smoke will impact his fields.

“Mother Nature’s thrown everything at us,” he expressed. “From drought to freezing temperatures and now smoke. I’m hoping the plants will bounce back and we’ll have a good season.”

Although this has affected the entire farm, Bush’s hot pepper fields were the hardest hit crops. By early June, a large portion of the plants had deteriorated to leafless stems.

This is a major problem for the farm because this is one of the only fields without irrigation. Bush voiced that if conditions don’t improve, this crop could be a total loss this season.

“With the peppers, if we lose them because of drought or cold or whatever, it took us two months from seed to get to this point,” he said. “It would be impossible now to make up those plants.”

Hot peppers are Bush’s second most popular product he sells in the summer months. So now, he is hoping for periodic rain, but not a downpour.

“When it’s coming down, like they say, raining cats and dogs, you see streams running down the road. That’s just running off the ground into the ditch and not really benefitting the plants,” Bush explained. “So a nice, steady, overcast raining for a couple of days would do us good.”

However, Bush Farms will continue its normal operation. Its farm stand is open seven days a week during daylight hours and is located at 10371 NY-26 in Carthage.