Water, Water, Everywhere

This post is a little late, as we FINALLY (fingers crossed) seem to be drying out a little, but I wanted to share some of the challenges that come with being a farmer.  The last few weeks have been pretty rough if you’re a farmer in Ohio.  The current joke is that Ohio has been named the next Great Lake.  If you’re a farmer, it’s not a very funny joke.  Our livelihoods literally depend on the weather, and when it doesn’t cooperate, it can be tough.

One thing that these last few weeks have given us is an even deeper appreciation for how good our hillside site is for growing fruits and vegetables.  Many farmers in Ohio have had their fields literally under water.  While we’ve had some temporary standing water, and I had to close the parking up at the u-pick fields for a couple of days to avoid anyone getting stuck, our damage has overall been fairly limited.

The biggest thing has probably been the loss of most of our cherry crop this year.  Cherries hate water.  A little bit of rain, and some of them will crack a little.  We lose a little bit of fruit to cracking every year.  A lot of rain, and you get widespread cracking and cherries that have split wide open. As you can see below, these fruit are lost.  And once they’ve cracked like that, they immediately start to rot.  And the rot spreads to other cherries.  It gets to be a real mess.  As a result, unfortunately, we’re going to be really low on cherries for the season.

The second pretty major thing has been some significant erosion.  This is the one negative to our hillside site.  At one point, we had a river running down through our cornfield to a drainage ditch which is now so full of silt, it looks like a sandbar.  We’re going to have to push all that dirt back up the hill where it belongs, plus it took out a chunk of corn on its way through.

There are some other not insignificant issues with all this rain as well, but they’re not as visually “impressive.”  Here and there it looks like we might lose a few trees in some of the wettest spots.  Our entire farm is tiled underground to help with drainage, but this year it hasn’t been enough.  A handful of our trees are really struggling (drowning), and they may or may not recover.  We also might be a little spotty with our sweet corn this year.  We do several plantings every year of quite a few varieties to allow us to have our own sweet corn from mid-summer through most of October.  This year there have been weeks where we’re due to plant more, but we just can’t get out into the field with our equipment.  And lastly, just like with the cherries, the diseases and rots are always worse when things are wet.

Overall, it’s been a very challenging spring/early summer to be a grower.  I guess if I wanted boring, I’d be doing something else, and we count our blessings that we have a site as good as we do.  A lot of farmers have things a lot worse than we do this year, and I really feel for them. 

So please support your local farmers!  This is one of the hardest jobs out there.

4 thoughts on “Water, Water, Everywhere

  1. Katy Dusek says:

    This weather has really been awful this spring! Is there anything that is going to be really good because of it?

    • Chris says:

      The vegetables we’ve been able to get planted are loving all the rain. And it seems like the blueberries are pretty happy, too. They have really shallow root systems, so they like frequent water. This has been pretty hard on all the tree fruit.

  2. Bill says:

    As the tree fruit season is coming to a close, has all the rain early this summer had a noticeable effect on the apple harvests?

    • Chris says:

      Yes. Pollination was poor so we have a significantly lighter crop than normal, and we’re going to have to replace trees that literally drowned. It’s been probably the worst growing season we’ve had in the fifteen years I’ve here.

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