Like most people preparing for Hurricane Irene on Sunday, local farmers and vineyard managers are securing equipment and battening the hatches on buildings as best as they can.
At in Mattituck, vineyard manager Eric Anderson is also tying down his grapes.
“We’ve been tightening the bird netting all day,” said Anderson on Friday afternoon. “We’re moving as much equipment inside as we can — but unfortunately, we can’t get out of the way.”
Since the grapes are not fully ripe and ready for harvest, they aren’t as fragile and have a better chance of withstanding 75-mile-an-hour winds, said Melissa Martin, spokeswoman for in Peconic. But there is not a lot those in the local wine industry can do structurally to protect vines and crops from what is expected to be the since Hurricane Gloria in 1985, she added.
“I talked to [vintner] Steve Mudd this morning and he had a good attitude about things,” she said. “If the winds were predicted to be stronger and if it was later in the season we’d be worse off.”
Ron Goerler, owner of , said that he did not expect the damage from this storm to be as bad as that caused by Hurricane Gloria, which brought winds up to 110 miles an hour and deposited a layer of salt on the North Fork. He spent much of Friday spraying his fruit with an organic spray meant to protect crops from salt.
“Hopefully we don’t get as much as we did in 1985,” he said. “I’ve got a quarter million invested in the vines and my crop insurance only covers about 75 percent.”
Speaking via phone from upstate New York, Peconic Farmer Al said he was doing his best to secure equipment during previous days and that he harvested low-lying section of a pumpkin field to get ready for the Labor Day rush. But he was worried about his fields of corn.
“The corn always gets it worst — it will get blown over,” he said. “So all we can do is hope for the best.”
Only a few weeks away from harvest, Anderson said that he was worried about losing crops growing in low-lying areas from flooding rather than high winds.
“We really don’t know what is going to happen, but we are trying to brace for the worst in the flood-prone areas.”