Hot & Cold
This was the headline last August on FarmersAlmanac.com:
Get Ready for a Wet, Wild Winter in 2012!
The accompanying article goes on to say:
For the winter of 2011–12, the Farmers’ Almanac is forecasting “clime and punishment,” (their emphasis) a season of unusually cold and stormy weather. For some parts of the country, that means a frigid climate; while for others, it will mean lots of rain and snow.
This prediction certainly sounded reasonable at the time and most of us probably nodded our heads in collective agreement.
Yet here in the Hudson Valley it has been a strange winter with a noticeable dearth of snowfall, with average temperatures higher than normal.
How will this lack of moisture and higher temperatures affect local agriculture?
Astrid Cook wrote this on CleanPlates.com:
For one thing, warmer temperatures mean increased risk of insect infestation. Few days this winter were below freezing, meaning many insects survived into spring — a particularly troubling problem for organic farms. “I’ve already seen aphids,” said Healthway Farms farmer Joseph O’Brien as he sold fully grown herbs from his stand at McCarren Park in Greenpoint on a recent Saturday.
His more immediate concern, however, is drought. “The problem we’re seeing is a lack of moisture; everything is way ahead of itself (in the growth cycle), meaning more dryness in the soil.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the upcoming growing season.
Ms. Cook wraps up her article with this:
Another obvious concern for growers is a late-spring frost. Paula Lutkas, Just Food’s CSA in NYC Program Manager, explains, “Warm weather at this time of year can be seducing to farmers and tempt them to push their spring planting earlier than they usually would. While this can give them a head start if all continues to go this way, it also can be risky.”
Agriculture is always conducted with and at the behest of the weather, but growers and producers will be tested this year. It will be more important than ever to support your local farmers. After all, we’re all in this real food movement together.
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