I think I owe all of you, collectively, an apology. In my January column, I was very eager to bid 2018 adieu. And I’m sure many of you were thinking the same thing at the time. But I think I might have jinxed us all.
So, for that I’m sorry.
Last year was no cakewalk, but compared to this year, it was a cakewalk where you win the triple-tiered confetti cake with whipped icing (sorry if that made anyone hungry).
Late snows. Chilly temperatures. And, of course, in many parts of the country, the rain. Lots of it.
I got a chance to get out and drive around a bit around my hometown in late June and I saw many a cornfield with standing water in it. A former co-worker of mine turned corn farmer, posted a comparison of the 2018 crop to the 2019 crop recently on Facebook. His 2018 planting was more than “knee-high by the Fourth of July.” This year, the field was bare, as it was just planted. I know some of you have had to delay planting your corn mazes and pumpkins.
Out West, a rainy May ruined what was expected to be the largest California cherry crop ever. I’ve heard about many growers whose early cherry seasons were shut out thanks to rain cracking.
I also recently visited an apple orchard where young (third or fourth leaf) trees were failing. The grower isn’t quite sure if it’s sudden apple decline or phytophthora due to the wet weather. But he knows something is up.
You’re likely spraying more this year, trying to prevent any pathogens that love wet, humid weather and I’m sure it sometimes feels like you’re chasing your tail. Let me guess, your June went like this: apply a fungicide, and then a rain event washes it off, apply a fungicide, rain event washes it off?
And now our area seems — I should hold my tongue lest I jinx you again — to be drying out.
But, what can you do? Well, you could sit back and complain about the weather, but that’s not going to accomplish much.
One thing that might be worth your while is considering the use of high tunnels with crops where it’s feasible.
You should also start scouting your orchards and look for trees (this year and soon after) that could be responding negatively to the wet weather we’ve had in the East.
And, you can always curse me when Mother Nature is unpredictable. One grower told me, “At least we now know who to blame.”