Oh 2011, what a Spring! The rain has long overstayed it's welcome, and according to this week's forecast it hasn't caught on yet. We've all been effected. Many gardens are still unplanted, lawns look more like pastures or swamps, and many an event was rained out. It could even be a matter of seasonal depression. Don't we suffer enough with these long, grey, windy winters? It makes us even more thankful for the few days of sun and warmth that we've had so far.
Enough complaining, you know what I'm really here to talk about. How are the crops coming along? In this part of the world, if you aren't farming then your neighbor or your cousin is, so plenty of people are talking about the rain and mud keeping tractors out of the fields. Sections that should be sprouting corn or soybeans right now are grassy wetlands instead. And some fields that were planted have been tilled and planted again, the first seeds rotting in the soil.
We are lucky to have well drained, sandy soil here. Our farmland in Albion has a few low, wet spots but most of it is high and hilly. Because of the quality of the land, we've been able to keep things going pretty well. But even so, it hasn't been easy.
Farmer Tim Kirby corrected my quote today when we sat down to talk about the weather. "Challenging, frustrating, and depressing," he said. "Everything is upside down, in chaos. But we're trying to make it an organized chaos."
"Cloudy wet conditions like these are the perfect storm for fungus and mold," he went on. Crops are most susceptible when in bloom and in the final stages of ripening, and some varieties are more vulnerable then others. Remember those sweet juicy donut peaches? Keep your fingers crossed, we might not see a lot of those.
Low temperatures are delaying things, there's no doubt about it. Most crops are very dependent on 'heat units' for growth, and this means a shorter season since those cold Autumn frosts will be right on schedule. Fruit trees are one exception to this rule. "As a perennial crop, they are not driven by heat units." Mr. Kirby was happy to add.
The good news: We'll have a nice continuous sweet corn season because Mr. Kirby has not missed a planting. All of our vegetables are in the ground (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and pickles) so you can count on us to have a wide variety of high quality produce, as always. We have a few tricks up our sleeve yet!