July 27, 2023

A bittersweet week it has been on the farm. Two rounds of rain, which we desperately needed, but they also came with some extremely damaging hail and winds. The first storm took place last Wednesday evening and at first glance, we thought we squeaked by with some rain and just a little damage with downed trees, a little damage to the high tunnels, and minimal crop damage. Boy, were we wrong.

"Farmer Jerry" Untiedt

As we got out into the fields on Thursday morning, we began to see the damage from the hail and wind. Hail ranging in size from pea to golf ball size graced many of our Montrose fields, leaving the impact much greater than we originally anticipated.

The second round of rain came Saturday afternoon and evening, but instead of hitting what had already been hit, that storm graced our corn fields with some high winds, leaving sections of the field flat on the ground.

I wish I could say that the rain we received made a dent in the drought, but realistically speaking, we still remain drastically dry, and this heat is not helping. Speaking of the heat, while it can be good for some crops, it can be detrimental to others, causing them to go into an “on hold” position.

As I’ve often talked about before, we have a toolbox full of remedies and solutions for a variety of problems. One that isn’t in the toolbox is how to deal with the aftermath of hail storms of this caliber.

As we face more extreme climatological events, these storms are something we are going to have to know how to deal with better. Since the storms, we have attempted to do a lot of plant rescue to keep the remaining plants in a productive mode, all the while, healing their substantial tissue damage.

damaged green peppers in the field

What does this really mean? It means that instead of spending time harvesting crops, we are in the fields going through and removing all the damaged fruit from the plants with hopes that the plants will be healthy enough to produce a second crop this season.

Peppers, green beans, and strawberries were the hardest hit, but we hope the effort we are putting in now will repay the efforts in a bountiful late season harvest. Only time can tell.

While the storms of the past week have been a substantial blow to our production regimen, it makes us extremely grateful for all of the high tunnel construction we have been able to do over the years. Without our high tunnels, product availability would be slim to none right now. These tunnels, as well as the fact that our farming operation is spread out over Wright County, allowed some crops to be untouched this past week. That will keep us supplied with enough crops to keep moving forward until the hail damaged fields can produce once again.

While it is easy to get down when crops are decimated right before your eyes, there are many exciting things happening as well!

  • The first watermelons from our high tunnels were harvested on Monday morning and the ones in the field don’t seem to be much further behind.
  • We have also moved to our field-grown cantaloupe, meaning we should have a steady supply going forward.
  • Our tomato crop continues to be bountiful, producing some of the nicest tomatoes we have ever seen. If you want to can, I’d highly recommend jumping on that right away.
  • While it’s not even close to squash harvest time, I walked those fields the other day and wow! There a lot of nice looking fruit out there as well. Some may have a few hail specks from the storm, but the fruit set is great considering the dry conditions this season.

It’s times like these where I have to sit back and think of how far we have come and how extremely grateful we are for the work our teams have put in over the years. For all of our successes on the farm, there have been many many more failures. This too, is just another bump in the road and we will do everything we can do move forward and continue to bring you all farm fresh produce for the remainder of the season.

Until next time,

Farmer Jerry