The Farmer's Daughter|
Our blog is written by Jennifer Shea, Dan and Cathy's oldest daughter. Jennifer is part of the 13th generation of Schoonmakers to work on Saunderskill Farm.
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"When a crop looks bad, don't look at it." Gordon Davenport
May 6, 2012
Sunday I was fortunate enough to sit down with my Grandparents Jack and Alice while they ate their lunch after church at Saunderskill Farm Market. They enjoy coming for lunch, visiting the family and talking with customers. I had some questions for Grandpa about this years weather pattern, concerned what the growing season would be like.
We started talking about what an ideal winter would be. For most of us we enjoyed this past winter. Minimal snow which means no shoveling, nice warm temperatures during the day, no ice storms, no power outages, less energy to heat our homes etc. But in farming a cold winter is beneficial for many reasons. Ideally by December there should be about a foot of frost in the ground, this kills insects and disease in the soil that can be harmful to crops. The beneficial worms and insects go down deep enough to be below the frost line. Snow is healthy, it's a blanket for cover crops and is a place for rodents to burro and keep warm. In the Spring when the snow melts it adds moisture to the ground. When the frost leaves the ground it breaks up the soil and it naturally aerates the soil. When soil is aerated it improves drainage, there is reduced surface runoff, it reduces soil erosion and increases worm population. This winter there was no frost in the ground.
We experienced unseasonably warm temperatures in March, it was hot and dry. These warm temperatures encouraged many fruits, grains and hays to start early growth. Then April brought cold weather back, late April we saw temperatures getting as low as 18 degrees. With plants already growing and in bloom farmers irrigated on the nights temperatures got below freezing. The cold temperatures were tough on the strawberries, Grandpa expects the crop to be good and plentiful, he just does not expect to see large berries, the quality will be good but small. As for the apple crop it is still a bit to early to tell if any damages were done, he expects to be able to tell in about 10 days. The good thing about apples is that there are so many apple blossoms on a tree that if you lose half there is still a lot to harvest. Grandpa Jack was sure to repeat "Farmer's are optimistic, there is always tomorrow"
Last week after the frost Grandpa said they thought they lost about 14 acres of corn. 7 planted on bare ground and 7 planted under plastic. (Corn planted under plastic tends to grow faster, it acts as a mini green house) He told me a good friend of his Gordon Davenport always said "When a crop looks bad, don't look at, wait a week and then go back." Sure enough we had a few good hot days this week and the corn has seemed to perk back up. He anticipates harvest to be on schedule for July 4th. Overall even with the temperamental weather Grandpa is optimistic for the growing season, things like pumpkins, tomatoes, corn and other annual vegetables will be up to par. Grandpa is "Thankful we will have a good supply of fruits and vegetables".