Farm Focus: Late Rain

We’re never ones to complain about rain here in California but we can’t help but be surprised by the dreary weather we experienced over the last few weeks. Late rain is not something we see every year in the Bay Area but we’ve been working hard to soak it up (pun intended) while we can.

Rain, when you don’t want it, can be a very real threat to farmers. The Central Valley’s Bing Cherry crop might be threatened this year because of the rain causing the fruit to split as it swells. It could be devastating to farmers who depend just this one crop and might lose everything this year. We are lucky to be a diversified farm with lots of crops to harvest over the course of the year. Additionally, we have been spraying out cherries with organic mineral fertilizers to fight the Spotted Wing Drosophila which will also help fruit take on water without splitting.

The lack of warmth and sunshine slows down the ripening process but, don’t worry, there is a silver lining! Since we had late rains this winter that kept our orchards muddy we are a little bit behind on thinning our trees so this slight delay in ripening will give us enough time to catch up.

The most obvious benefit of rain is irrigation, which is certainly important here in the Bay Area where our climate is defined by lack of rain during the warm months. This late rain will help our trees during this busy growing season and save labor by putting off the need to manually irrigate a little bit.

If you’ve been a member of the CSA for a while you know how we extol rain for its subtle but significant fertilizing properties. Have you ever noticed how lush and green your garden looks after the rain? That’s because as rain falls through the atmosphere it pulls small amounts of nitrogen out of the air and deposits it on leaves and soil below.

Another perk of rain is that it acts as a free spray for powdery mildew which prefers dry conditions. The rain gently washes away mildew spores from peaches and nectarines.

This is the time of year when we replant trees around the orchard that have died or become unproductive. Since the replanted trees are scattered throughout the orchard it takes a lot of time, coordination and labor to water each of them individually after planting. We’re very glad they got a good soak to start their lives at Frog Hollow Farm off right.