I guess you might call it “juicy” weather. Lots of humidity and frequent rain. This isn’t typical weather for Michigan. This time of year we usually have high pressure ridges that stagnate over us and it might be weeks between rains. When it does rain we get half of the months rain in a couple of hours. Right now we still have dew on the grass at noon when the sun isn’t out to dry it. Exert yourself with farm chores and you’ll be soaked with body coolant (sweat) for the rest of the day. Like I said, “juicy”.
Some of the crops love this weather. Others suffer tremendously. The greens are amazing…best I’ve seen for August ever. I brought some collard greens in to sample before harvesting for CSA shares and the family was amazed they tasted so good this time of the year. Usually they are rather strong and we wait till fall for them to improve. The kale and swiss chard are producing exceptional crops. The root vegetables have been tremendous as well. Beets, carrots and potatoes have exceeded recent year production by a huge margin.
The plants that are struggling are all the hot weather crops, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and melons. I plant many short season vining crops and pickles, cukes and some tomatoes have crops but they are poor. Such a flip to last year when the opposite was the case. I’ve kept an eye on a favorite muskmelon and it has grown to spectacular size but is no closer to ripening than it was 2 weeks ago. A daily check of the forecast shows little chance of the desired heat to push these crops to maturity. As it is the tomatoes are harvested at full color and brought indoors to ripen. Then the plant can direct energy to other fruits to ripen. The juicy weather has made leaf diseases more prevalent among vining crops and tomatoes. Mulches were refreshed on the tomatoes and this has helped keep new incidences of disease to a minimum. Regardless, the weather has definitely had an impact on production again this year. The weeds and blood sucking insects have been in excess as well.
Vegetable farmers in Michigan aren’t the only ones with interesting production stories. Fruit farmers are seeing a massive crop. Apples are so heavy on trees this year that desperate thinning is being done to keep the trees from being damaged by the fruit. I’ve seen some fruit trees with the full canopy down to the ground on bowed branches. Others with snapped limbs…