Rain, rain…GO AWAY! Obviously rain is crucial to growing vegetables, however, this week’s newsletter is a good time to address an important, topical question:
What is the impact of extreme rain on a farm?
On a basic level, heavy rain affects a farmer’s ability to do the essentials- harvest, plant, and weed. Thick, deep patches of mud make it extremely difficult for Bob to use the tractor to plant new crops and combat weeds. The rain also limits our farm team’s ability to harvest in the fields. Thunderstorms make that task impossible.
One of the most potentially dangerous impacts of heavy rain is soil erosion. Bob spreads compost and the rain washes the rich soil away, nutrients running off like a river from the crops that need them. A neighboring farm had a promising potato crop exposed to the sun due to erosion, causing them to sprout. Ultimately, this will drastically reduce the yield of their crop that was planned months ago.
Extreme rain also increases the risk of water related disease and pests. Water molds can spread rapidly in recirculating irrigation water and cause serious damage within a few days. Here at Katchkie, overly wet fields prevented us from harvesting tomatoes until the leaves have dried, so as not to spread diseases.
Finally, heavy rain (and climate change in general) impacts the crops themselves. Late summer veggies that thrive on hot, sunny days are not getting their optimal growing conditions. This leads to a later harvest, or potentially, the loss of a whole crop. Keep an eye on your CSA share too. Rain can cause blemishes and cracks in more fragile vegetables, such as tomatoes. Even the taste of the vegetables can be altered by heavy rains! Remember the losses I mentioned due to soil erosion? Imbalanced levels of sugars and important nutrients can alter the taste of the end product too.
Such are the challenges of farming! On the bright side, we hope you will be inspired with this week’s harvest to make that special margarita or grab a nice cold beer to go with the Pico de Gallo, or stuffed poblanos or gazpacho we’re certain you’ll be making. Ole'!