We all know what we have experienced here in Tucson the last several weeks (or more?) of excessive HEAT and not a lot of rain for our monsoon season. But just think what our produce is going through (and honestly, more importantly, those farmers who are trying to take care of it!)? In some cases, it has just been TOO HOT for the produce to handle.
Whether with a sense of frustration or relief you have probably noticed that we have not been inundated with the usual squash and cucumbers in our shares this year. Much of the summer squash harvest at Crooked Sky Farm (predominantly in Phoenix area) seemed to have COOKED on the vine in the fields due to excessive heat! We also usually get lots of Armenian cucumbers because they can tolerate the heat better than other varieties. Unfortunately, this year Frank at Crooked Sky was unable to find enough seed so he opted for slicing cucumbers. The plants grew well and produced fruit but the cucumbers ended up being incredibly bitter from the heat stress. The entire crop was a loss!
Below are some of the notes we have received from farmers in the past few weeks. We share this as a way for us to all support our farmers with an understanding of why the figs didn’t come in after all or why we have not received more of our usual summer produce.
From Farmer Frank at Crooked Sky Farm:
“We are hoping to have bell peppers again in a week or 10 days . A lot of them including the Cubanelle suffered a lot of sunburn. We are going through the plants and stripping peppers with damage or sun burn so it doesn’t take energy from the plant and hopefully it will regrow. I’ve never seen this much damage from the heat before!”
From Emily at Mission Gardens:
“hi, the figs are done for the season. i’m thinking the fact that it was the hottest july on record with very little rain…has somethin to do with it. They dried up on the trees over the weekend
i’m sorry for the news
i don’t think it’s even worth a trip here for you”
From Laurel at Sleeping Frog Farm:
“We had some hard rains out here this week that ruined a lot of the squash plants…Wasn’t expecting that but tis the season…it was just hot everything’s been stunted.”
From Julie at New Roots:
“Just checked in; I’m sorry to say the herbs didn’t make it (they were in east central Tucson where the storm was worst)”
The good news? We have been able to work with Tucson’s New Roots farmers, Aravaipa Orchards and Merchant’s Garden to get some variety in our shares this summer and September will bring fresh crops from Westover Farm and Moonlighter Farm. Through it all, we have been able to support our main farms with consistent orders by being more flexible with split shares (choices) and slightly less exciting harvest lists. Rains have started to increase and the temps are starting to go down (was it really under 80 degrees this morning?!)
In September we are looking forward to some of the traditional summer produce that has been in short supply this year, including: melons, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, hot and sweet peppers and basil. The apple harvest on Mount Graham is starting and we can expect to see the fruit frequently for a month or two. Other cooler weather crops we are looking forward to in mid to late September include early radishes, turnips and greens.
We try our hardest to strike a balance between making sure members get good, quality produce and making sure farms have a reliable income flow even during difficult seasons. We want to thank all our members and volunteers for sticking it out with us during this hot summer season and supporting local agriculture!