Ripples of clouds were already breaking up over a humid early morning Regional Market, 2100 Park St., on June 28. A faint, powdery blue sky peaked out behind the clouds, as smiling, chatting shoppers hurried towards the roofed sheds in shorts and T-shirts. Habitual market shoppers observed varying shades of red with the beginning of cherries and the end of strawberries, as they strolled past the beautiful neat rows of green snap peas.
Randy Daratt was almost too busy selling strawberries, cherries and hothouse tomatoes to talk. Customers kept emptying his bin of early cabbages, sold for $1.50 each. The tomatoes were $2 per pint. But the real stars were the fruits.
"As long as we don't get a lot of hot weather and rain," Daratt said, there should be strawberries available on July 5, but that might be the last weekend. He sells strawberries grown on his 100-acre farm in Cato, as well as those grown by farmers in Baldwinsville.
The sweet cherries from his farm cost $2.50 per pint. Like most of the farmers selling cherries that day, his crop had been pounded by hail.
Weather was the topic of the morning and farmer Ellis Briggs, whose farm near Sodus spans three counties, displayed a juicy, deep red cherry marred by a pit-deep hole. Hail had caused the damage and while the cherry remained delicious, it couldn't be sold.
His apple and cherry trees had been damaged by "hail the size of golf balls." And it was a terrible mess for the apple crop, he said, predicting an 80 to 90 percent loss of both crops.
The only way farmers will be helped, he said, is if they are given assistance in the form of grants to cover the damage. Farmers don't have a chance to recoup the lost income.