Too cold and slick: No farmers market Saturday, Feb. 13

Peach and strawberry crops are in danger

The main market news this week should be no surprise. Market is cancelled Saturday due to the extreme cold. Opening up in sub-zero weather just isn’t that appealing. Frozen local produce, anyone?

We’ve never had to cancel because of extreme cold before,  just for icy streets. Jason Hirtz, our farmer presenter at last night’s Winter Production Conference zoom session, said that in six years of farming he had never experienced such cold. He’s hoping three layers of row cover over his high tunnel crops will protect them, but if it doesn’t the timing is good. He is nearing when he would clear out all the tunnels to prepare them for spring planting anyway so his loss would not be devastating, which is a good thing since keeping his crops covered all week will probably cause some disease issues anyway.  Ah, the challenges of farming.

The market’s farmers are facing the same issues. One farm is covering field strawberries as well as they can, another is trying to protect high tunnel strawberry plants. In either case, temperatures below 15 degrees can cause damage. If it stays below zero for very long we can expect some damage to the peach crop. Though the peach trees are not blooming yet, the buds set on in the fall and can be damaged by such low temperatures. Farmers will work especially hard to keep their seed houses warm. Normally, there would be tomato and other warm season crops germinating by now for later transplanting, as well as herbs and flowering plants.

You can bet that there will be lots of farmers in our area sleeping on pins and needles for the next 10 days. There are lots of wonderful and satisfying aspects to farming. Bad weather is not among them.

We’ll see you at the market Saturday, Feb. 20. In the meantime, stay warm and stay safe.

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