This season here on the farm is the earliest season that we have ever had.  A mild winter and spring led to a summer that descended virtually over night. We are picking peaches a month earlier than we were last year.  Tomatoes are early, cherries were early, it seems that everything is early. There are good things that come from this (fresh fruit much earlier than we antipated~and that is never a bad thing!) and challenges along the way.  The biggest challenge we face right now is that we’ve essentially lost 3 weeks of work.  It’s kind of like half of June and July just never made it to the calendar.
The challenges of an early season plays out in how we prioritize what needs to happen on the farm.  Do we pick peaches today or do we thin apples? Do we split the crew so that half pick while half of them thin?  Do we weed the thigh-high weeds in the new table grapes, or do we thin apples? Do we prioritize the immediate needs (thinning this years’ crop) at the sake of the longer-term needs (grapes not growing because of the weeds)?   We are in the throws of building a new 30’X50’ cooler while picking, thinning and repairing irrigation lines.  In a “normal” year (“normal” is up for grabs when one farms), we would have finished building the cooler, then a crew would be thinning and picking would have followed.
Water is also a concern, as we had little moisture during the winter.  We were irrigating and getting as much water on our trees earlier this summer when the temperatures were warm, the trees and ground dry.  The recent cooler temperatures and afternoon rainstorms have been a welcome event.  We’ve been able to hoard some of our reservoir water which means we should not run out of water mid-September.  How much we water today affects how we’ll water in September.
Despite the numerous challenges that an early season provides, let’s be honest…it’s great having produce earlier than before. I’m not hearing anyone complaining about peaches and tomatoes in mid-July! We are enjoying wonderful meals either straight out of our garden or with produce from our veggie CSA partners.  Wherever you may be, I hope that you are, too!

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