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A Very Busy Week on The Farm…Again!

A Very Busy Week on The Farm…Again!

It was a lot of fun watching our Highlands Harvest Club get underway this week.  The entire farm was buzzing with activity as we prepared our staff for the first distribution share and organized delivery routes.  The start of our “Community Supported Agriculture” (CSA) distribution also marks the commencement of the harvest season for the year.  While we have been cutting asparagus for a few weeks now; we just this week began harvesting overwintered vegetables such as spinach, cilantro, scallions, leeks, and much more.  It was very fun to see the packing house buzzing and members popping in to pick up their shares.

While the first CSA distribution demanded much of our attention last week; our production team also continued to “dig in” and get a lot of work done in the fields and orchards.  Some much needed rain was received on Wednesday which afforded our entire crew a little breathing room in what has been a very busy spring planting season.  I am sure that many of you have noticed that it is certainly a much later season compared to last year; however, it is surprisingly much closer to normal than many people realize.  Last year was an extremely early season and presented a host of issues…the biggest being an early bloom in the fruit trees that led to dreadful freeze injury losses for farmers across the entire nation.  We were very fortunate that we were spared any severe crop damage in 2012 and the likelihood of a problem this year is very slim given the date on the calendar.

Interestingly; however, we are likely facing a frost event this upcoming Monday night.  Make a point to watch your thermometer, look at the wind, and check for the lack of cloud cover in the sky.  I suspect that you will see the wind die down to nearly dead still, a stunningly clear night loaded with stars that you don’t normally see, and temperatures nose diving once the sun goes down.  Typically when the weather channel forecasts the Morristown Airport to be below 40 degrees we need to prepare for frost.  The current forecast is 39 degrees for Monday night.

We generally don’t plant any frost sensitive crops until after May 10th.  As it would happen we were prepared to plant tomatoes and eggplant this week-end but decided to delay the plantings until after this possible frost period.  A few more days hardening off on the wagons versus in the fields will make no difference come harvest time in July.  Apples and peaches, while in bloom, are safe into the very low 30’s and even the high 20’s right now.  Plus the temperature at the height of the trees is several degrees higher than the ground temperature…so again little chance of a problem with the trees.  Strawberries; however, are another story.  They are in full bloom right now and as you are familiar the plants lie close to the ground where temperatures will be the coldest.  In order to protect the strawberries we will use a combination of spun woven row cover, basically a very large field sized blanket, to cover the fields in addition to overhead irrigation.  The constant application of water to the plants once the temperature drops down close to freezing will maintain the temperature of the fruit blossoms at 32 degrees…even once the water starts freezing on the plants.  As long as we keep applying water to the plants ice will continue to be formed and the temperature will be maintained at a safe 32 degrees.  As the sun rises the next morning we must only continue to apply the water until the ice melts off the plants and then they are safe.

While we are watching Sunday through Tuesday night we are most concerned about Monday night.  So, the irrigation pump is filled with diesel fuel, the pipe is laid out in the fields, and row cover is being pulled over the plants tomorrow afternoon.  I will be sure to report to you next week on our success.

As I depart to prepare for Mother’s Day for my wife Barbara allow me to take this opportunity to wish all of the moms out there a very special Mothers’ Day and I hope that it affords all of you a pleasant day with your families.  If you are in the area…stop in for a FREE ice cream for Mom on us all day tomorrow.  Our new frozen custard is really great…I encourage you to try it!

Best Regards to you all!

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