New York Fruit Farmers Weathering the 2016 Season
Just Food's Emilie Miyauchi expains the fruit challenges of the 2016 growing season
August 2016: While we're now in the hot and sticky midst of summer, the bizarrely warm March followed by the deep frosts in April may seem distant, but are making big impacts on what we see this year in our CSA shares and at our farmer’s markets.
Why? Vegetable growers can be agile when it comes to responding to abnormal weather and have an arsenal of strategies to coax their seed crops into big beautiful yields, but it is our fruit growers and their orchards that have less flexibility. This is because the biological rhythm of fruit trees to blossom and bear fruit is stimulated by temperature and not time of year. So, if we have a warm March the trees will begin to flower regardless of whether we are safely past the last frost date. And when there is a period of deep frost after those blossoms have set, the blooms are killed along with their potential to become fruit. For the grower, there is little that can be done, but wait for the season to cycle back.
The larger problem is, that for many growers the economic reality is such that one bad season can be enough to put them out of business. That’s part of what we buy into when we invest in sharing the experiences of our local farmers and rural economy. When we invest in our CSA shares and our farmers' markets, we are not just investing in food, we are investing in the people growing it and in the future when food will still be grown by hand with knowledge passed down person to person.
As a CSA member and farmers' market customer, you make it possible for farmers to bear out the learning curve of climate change by providing them the economic stability to develop their skills and infrastructural needs from season to season.