Apple-picking, hay rides and pumpkin-flavored everything season is upon us and the fall weather is perfect for outdoor activities, but how about for the crops?
Beach-goers experienced cooler weather this summer than they might have hoped for, but for crops the weather was close to perfect in the Hudson Valley region. Although the farming industry this season has experienced some damages to crops, losses were minor and manageable.
“Last year was almost ideal, this year was not as good but I wouldn’t say it was terrible,” said Mark Doyle, Business Manager of Fishkill Farms Apple Orchard.
Unfortunately for Fishkill Farms, which currently is open weekly through mid-October for apple-picking, it has come across more waste this apple season than the last. Hot and humid days toward the end of August and into early September led to damage of the farm’s apple crop; more specifically it caused uneven ripening and more apples fell to the ground than usual. The apples are currently in season, however, and still seem to be doing just fine thanks to the steady rainfall of the season and cool nights we are now experiencing.
Aside from the apples, Fishkill Farms came into some trouble with early-season peaches ripening too slowly or not becoming as sweet as they should have been. In July, the weather was not as warm and sunny as the farm needed for the peaches to grow to their full potential. According to Doyle, sun equals sugar when it comes to fruit.
“We are learning to apply more management techniques for the next year and to produce better products,” said Doyle.
On a happier note, leafy greens, which require cooler weather, had an easier growing period this season at Fishkill Farms.
At Glebocki Farms, the mildew that accumulated in late spring and early summer negatively impacted the growth of what they call “summer loving” crops. The month of August was not hot enough for the summer vegetables, which resulted in very minimal harvesting of tomatoes and basil at the farm.
According to Kelly Schaeffer, the CSA Manager of Glebocki Farms, this is peak season. As long as nights do not produce frostbite, the “summer loving” plants such as corn, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini and basil will remain healthy. Winter vegetables, on the other hand, have no problem surviving in the tougher weather that we don’t want to get out of bed for.
“The weather we’re having now keeps the pest situation under control,” added Schaeffer. “Insects die with cooler weather, which is better for our crops.”
Thus far in the month of September, temperatures have been above average and slightly warmer than September of 2013, with current highs of 92 and lows at 42. Temperatures for the month are expected to remain in the high-60s to mid-70s during the day, which is what Schaeffer said is the ideal weather to keep crops healthy until the end of September rolls around. Nights are expected to drop down to around 40 degrees, but should not reach freezing temperatures just yet. For farms in the area, this is great news.
“Once the temperatures drop below 30 degrees is when we run into big trouble,” said Trish Greco from Meadowbrook Farm in Wappingers Falls.
According to the National Weather Service, the summer season experienced much less rain than last year, reaching only 10.64 inches as opposed to 19.57 inches. Greco, however, stated that the plentiful sunny days accompanied by rainy nights have led to a great year for their crops.
Fortunately for Glebocki Farms, it is located in the black dirt region of Orange County. The black dirt has the ability to hold in moisture, which made any dry conditions that would normally have been extremely harmful for crops, bearable for this fifth generation farm.