The Dirt on the Farm: Summer Crop Forecast, by Tim Huth

cukesSummer Crop Forecast: 7/18/13

Summer has reared its ugly head this week, with heat indexes getting into the 100's. This following a wet couple of weeks has most of our hot season crops loving life. This combination is not all good though. Diseases and funguses love wet, and often warmth too. Late Blight, the bane of the tomato farmer, has been spotted in 3 Wisconsin counties thus far, and is sure to make its way to LotFotL sooner or later. We will take some preventative steps, but once blight takes over, the tomatoes will be sparse. Still, we are ahead of the curve, with many of our determinate type tomatoes already bearing heavy fruit sets, and some even beginning to ripen. Our heirloom tomatoes too look vigorous, and are beginning to ripen. Don't expect any tomatoes next week, but soon, and hopefully for a long time.

Our summer last year was ruined for me for many reasons, not the least of which was a large melon crop that was decimated, not even yielding one ugly but salvageable bite of flesh for us at the farm. This year we have planted lots and lots of melons, and I'm happy to report that they look great so far. This includes old standby's like moon and stars watermelons and cantaloupe, but also some more novel types like Cream of Saskatchewan white fleshed watermelon, Charantais and San Juan type fruits, and even some tropical Galia melons. It should be a long and sticky summer of melon eating, again starting hopefully in about 2 weeks.

The last, and for me most exciting crop to forecast is Sweet potatoes. I haven't grown sweet potatoes in many years, and didn't have the best luck when I did. Sweet Potatoes aren't acclimated very well to our climate, but many growers do have success with them. A little extra care, and proper handling are very important in producing them. We won't have many(but should have some for all), but if the crop does well, expect them to become a standard fall treat in our CSA shares for years to come. These won't be ready until just before first frost, but right now is the time of year that they begin to aggressively vine out and take over all flora and pathways in their way.

For now, enjoy a couple more nice weeks of summer squash and cucumbers. These should be around for a couple more weeks. We'll begin to get into beans soon too: green, broad, dragon tongue, and edamame are all planted and looking good. Peas are done for the most part, and a lapse in lettuce will begin in about 2 weeks. We're trying to give a break on kale and chard, but have beautiful plants that we'd hate to see go to waste. Our break won't be long, and it won't be our last one either, rest assured.

Where oh where did this year go. It won't be long now until I'm craving coats, tip-ups, and a good book, planning vacations to warm climates(fingers crossed), and burning more wood than calories. Until then, it's back to the sauna!