From July 18th, 2011

Garden_Hose

Feast or Famine…Flooding or Droughts

We asked Mark Bray, our adviser from University of Arkansas Department of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, to give us a little perspective on this seasons weather.

From Mark…

Fayetteville weather data tells an interesting “feast or famine” story of vegetable production.

  • April average temperatures were slightly higher than normal while April rainfall total was 15.28″; which is 10.95″ more than normal for the month (you may recall the flood on the 24th-25th when we got 7 of those inches).
  • May average temperatures were lower than normal while May rainfall was high at 11.50″; which is 6.44″ above normal for the month.
  • To sum up April-May conditions, we had an extended cool, wet spring; which is generally better for early spring crops.  If you recall we had a bumper broccoli crop, as well as cabbage!  This is the feast portion of the story.

However, with June came famine, and it came with a vengeance.

  • June average temperatures were 4.9 degrees F above normal with 20 days above 90 degrees F.  To make growing conditions for plants even harsher, we only received .97″ of rainfall; which is 4.29″ less than normal for the month.
  • So far July has offered no relief.  Sixteen of the previous 17 days have had +90 degrees F temp.  Additionally, temps thus far are above avg by 5.2 degrees F.  So far we’ve had .59″ rainfall which is 1.37″ less than  normal.
  • As we’ve seen, many crops are simply not growing in this heat.  It’s all they can do to stay alive…much less produce fruit. Tomatoes, peppers, and beans are failing to set fruit due to above normal night time temps.

When plants fail to set fruit, the flowers just fall to the ground.  Unfortunately, the weather forecast offers little hope of relief of crop stress due to heat and drought.

If this report on the weather seems discouraging, this is how it feels to “be the farmer…”

As you can see it’s been a tough season so far on the weather side.  However, we are continuing to manage through flood and no rains and we could not do it without all of the volunteers and partners who continue to come and give of their time and resources to ensure The Farm continues to move forward.

We will continuing irrigation to help with the lack of water; however, we need the temperatures to come down to ensure that our summer crops have a chance to get a good start on fruit/crop production.

If you would like more information on how you can help with The Farm, please email TheFarm@CobblestoneProject.org.