Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #18, 6/21/18

What’s been going on!

The first day of summer, the longest day of the year, the stifling heat and humidity.  The only bright note is that the days now begin to get shorter which leads, eventually, to cooler days, something to dream about.  Life continues on the farm, morning work out in the field, regular irrigation and planting maintenance but it is at a measured pace with as little afternoon, in the sun, expenditure of energy as possible.

One thing we have no control over when it is this hot is how the tomatoes and peppers will set fruit.  When the day time temperatures are over 90 degrees and/or the night time above 70 degrees it makes the pollen less viable or sticky so that it won’t be able to fertilize the flower.  Fortunately we have been relatively cool until this week so should have a good tomato fruit set until the last week of July or the first of August when this week’s heat will become apparent as it takes six to seven weeks from pollination (or not) to a ripe fruit.

The pollination problem is a bit less severe in peppers but it will reduce the number of fruit in July and early August which is one reason we have our biggest pepper supply in the fall.  With climate change and the increasing frequency of heat waves it will affect when and for how long people will be able to grow tomatoes in this area.  Another reason to savor them while they are at their best!

Picture of the Week

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Shade cloth on the Big Tops to help keep the summer lettuce cool.

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 9 #14, 6/20/12

What’s been going on!

The summer solstice, longest day of the year, last day of spring, summer starts at 7:09 p.m., the heat started yesterday, had to happen sooner or later.  Tomorrow Betsy can start her annual chant “Now that the days are getting shorter, frost is just around the corner!”.  It has been a marvelous late spring with nights in the 50’s and low humidity but it will all soon be a dim memory as we head into the tunnel of summer heat and humidity.

Some good things come out of the right amount of summer heat.  Tomatoes that taste better than just about anywhere else in the country for example.  Without sun and warmth, the plants just don’t make enough sugars and other flavor components.  This is why greenhouse tomatoes or ones grown in the northern tier of the country, no matter what variety or how well tended, can never really have great flavor.

There is a balance though.  With too much heat and humidity, the plants stop setting fruit, there is more trouble with sun burned fruit (sunscald in the vernacular), hollow walls and blossom end rot when the plants just can’t move enough water up through the plant fast enough.  This is why our farmer friends in the most southern tier states have tomatoes in June and maybe early July and then pack it in for the season until it cools back down.

Fortunately we are entering tomato season at just the right time, plenty of fruit hanging on the vines waiting for the heat to finish the process.  We pick more each harvest day and soon the table will be overflowing with all of the colors, shapes and sizes.  Here’s to summer!

Picture of the Week

Tomatoes in the cool of the early morning, waiting for the heat to flavor them up

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