After last year’s disaster, things are great on N.H. farms this year

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The sprawling Apple Hill Farm in Concord with its stawberry fields in the foreground on Monday, July 1, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Story Produced by the Concord Monitor, a Member of

Farmers famously see the glass as half empty because nature always pulls a fast one on them, but something unusual can be heard in New Hampshire this year: Agricultural optimism.

“The weather has been cooperating, and we haven’t had any major weather events,” said Madison Hardy, president of the New Hampshire Fruit Growers Association. “Everybody’s feeling positive.”

“Knock on wood, but everything’s looking really good,” said Todd Laroque, manager of Carter Hill Orchard in Concord.

The recent winter saw the right amount of precipitation, even if much was in the form of rain to the despair of the snow sports industry. Springtime was sunny but not too sunny, cool but not too cool, wet but not too wet. Even the June heat wave, which flirted with record heat and humidity in Concord, was short-lived and didn’t do much damage.

Mia Derohanian picks strawberries with her family at Apple Hill Farm in Concord

“Yeah, I’m not complaining. I could have done without the 100-degree weather, but other than that it’s great,” said Diane Souther of Apple Tree Farm in Concord. “We’re all done strawberry picking, but we’re coming into blueberries and raspberries starting on July 5. … The berries are great, they’re big, they’re going to be super.”

Hay, which is one of the state’s most important crops, is doing so well that a few farmers have already made a second cut, Laroque said. Even the risk of wildfires measured by the state has been at or near the lowest level all year.

This good start to the season is particularly welcome because last year was so wet and cool that many crops struggled, on top of a brutal February cold snap that basically wiped out peaches in the Northeast. Not this year.

“There’s a good peach crop, a good apple crop so far,” said Hardy. “Things are looking a lot better than last year, for sure.”

A bushel of strawberries at Apple Hill Farm in Concord.

New Hampshire isn’t exactly a farming colossus but agriculture accounts for an estimated $700 million in business each year, according to the state Department of Agriculture. A large percentage of that is direct-to-consumer sales of multiple crops via pick-your-own, farmers markets and locally branded products in stores, rather than the older model of wholesale sales of a single crop, and most of it happens on small farms.

New Hampshire has a surprising number of farms – more than 4,000 of them – but that’s because it only takes $5,000 worth of annual agriculture sales to be considered a farm.

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