Nasty winter leads to slow summer start on East End farms

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RIVERHEAD -

With this weekend being Memorial Day weekend, the summer is about to unofficially begin -- but a nasty winter and rainy spring have chilled sales at East End farm stands so far.

There are thousands of blooming flowers sitting at Helen's, a popular farm in Riverhead. The problem is, there haven't been very many looking to buy them.

March was cool and wet, and with snow extending into April, farms are also expecting their produce to arrive late this year.

"You hope that it just doesn't go from 70 (degrees) to 90," said Donald McKay, of Helen's. "Because then you lose May too, because it gets too hot. People don't wanna plant. They wanna go to the beach."

Jonathan Sujecki owns Sujecki Farms. Normally, he said, corn crops would have been planted and already growing at this time of year. Instead, he was standing in a field where soil was more visible than produce.

"It's the first day that we've had in a long time that is nice," he said Friday. "As you can see, we're not anywhere near that."

Sujecki said he'd hoped to open his Calverton farm stand in time for Mother's Day, but the weather derailed his plans. His big opening push will be this weekend instead.

The forecast is clear this weekend, and the farmers said they're hoping for big crowds leading into Memorial Day to help turn things around.

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