August 9, 2023

Would you believe me if I told you we have ripe squash in our fields? Well, I think it’s a bit crazy too, but with the extreme heat we have experienced this summer, I guess nothing really surprises me anymore.

But it’s true – walking our squash fields the other day I came across several varieties that are showing signs of ripeness that include brittle stems and colored ground spots.

pumpkin in field

Not only did I come across ripe squash, but fall ornamentals such as mini pumpkins and gourds are showing color as well. Typically, fall harvest begins after the State Fair as we are focused on sweet corn harvest during the last half of August. We may have to get creative and begin harvesting earlier than planned!

Paul and Jerry with summer pumpkin

That brings me to a question I have been asked often recently:

“What has this heat, with very little rainfall, done to the crops?” 

We all know the drought has had an effect on the crops, but what has the heat done?

Let’s start with the drought. Once again, this past weekend we had high hopes of significant rainfall, but were left with just .3”.

Over the years we have made substantial capital investments by drilling wells and installing irrigators on many of our fields. As we are enduring drought for the third year in a row, we are extremely thankful for the time and money we have put into these systems. In all honesty, without them, we would be left without some of our crops like sweet corn, tomatoes, and melons. I can safely say our water, maintenance, and electricity bills for running these systems are at an all-time high this season.

The heat only adds another layer of complexity to the growing process. For many of our crops, we plant in successive plantings.

For example, we plant sweet corn every three days from late April until the middle of July. Theoretically, by doing this, it ensures we have ripe sweet corn from early July until it freezes. It should become ripe at different times.

Untiedt's corn fields

This year is a different story. Due to the heat, the corn is ripening at a faster pace, meaning multiple plantings are ready at the same time. Once corn is ripe in the field, we have a very narrow window in which we can harvest it at peak flavor.

So, with multiple plantings ripening at one time, this leaves us in a little bit of a pickle.

  • Do we harvest and hope we can sell it?
  • Or, do we chop it down for animal feed because the cost of harvesting is so high?

It’s a dilemma we deal with daily right now.

For those of you worrying about the corn for the State Fair, do not worry, we will have it! It’s a stressful process of praying, worrying, and hoping that we can hit that 12-day window of supplying corn to The Corn Roast, but somehow we manage to pull it off year after year.

The same goes for tomatoes and cantaloupe. Entire fields should not be ripening at one time, but that is the case this season. Typically, we should get 3-4 picks off a cantaloupe field, but 2 is likely our max this year all because all the melons ripened at one time.

cantaloupe in field

What does all of this mean for the rest of the season?

We aren’t quite sure yet. It’s our hope that temperatures will level out in the coming weeks, allowing the growth to slow a bit. It’s always our goal to carry locally-grown produce through September and even into October, but only time will tell this year.

We are seeing substantial crop recovery since the hailstorm a few weeks ago. It is a process that takes time, a lot of labor, and some patience. While we did experience about a 60% loss of one of our orchards, the apples that remain in that orchard as well as our other orchard look good, and we are beginning to see color. Only a couple of weeks until we begin the First Kiss apple harvest!

While the days are long, we still love what we do. If we didn’t love farming, we would have been out of this industry years ago as it takes a lot of hard work, mental anguish, and resiliency. All things that don’t necessarily come easy, but are learned over the years.

Thank you all for your continued support through subscribing to our CSA program, shopping at our vegetable stands and garden centers, visiting us at local farmers’ markets, and buying from our trusted retail partners. We will continue to do everything in our power to bring you all the freshest, highest quality produce we can.

My sincerest thanks,

Farmer Jerry