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Sunny weather gives harvest a boost

Farmers are reporting accelerated crop harvests as warm, dry weather continues


Photo Credit: DARRYL SWAN - Garrett Kellogg (front) checks out and bags produce at the Pumpkin Patch market on Sauvie Island. Many crops have reached maturity early this season due dry, sunny weather.The spell of sunny weather, with hot, dry days lining up in the immediate forecast, has been a boon for local farmers.

Joe Kellogg, a manager at the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island, says crops have been popping early all summer.

“All of our berries were way early. Our cucumbers were early. Our super-sweet corn was a couple of weeks early,” he says. “We do have a lot of the super-sweet corn available.”

Kellogg anticipates tomatoes, typically an early September crop, to be ready for harvest this month.

As summer nears its end, farmers and agricultural experts are taking stock of the season and are pleased with the turnout.

“I think the farmers are comfortable with how it has played out so far,” says Chip Bubl, agent for Oregon State University Extension Service in St. Helens.

A further benefit of the summer weather conditions, from an Oregon commercial agriculture point of view, has been the lack of rain, Kellogg says.

“We’ve had to water, but that’s OK,” he says, noting that crop irrigation allows for a predictable schedule. “We like the sunshiny days, just because we can irrigate. And when the rain comes, we can’t control that.”

Bubl says the dry weather has been one of the biggest challenges for some growers, though he says those with reliable irrigation systems can easily avoid Oregon’s annual summer drought.

“I think that has been one of the biggest challenges, is managing the water this year,” he says.

In addition to the metered watering schedule, dry weather has allowed farmers and residential growers to avoid the many diseases that accompany periods of rainy weather. Other than powdery mildew, a warm-weather disease that can affect most plant varieties, crops are most vulnerable to disease following several days of rain, Bubl says.

In some situations, he says it is possible the accelerated harvest of some crops could also allow for the planting and harvesting of a short-term second crop, such as radishes, which like cooler temperatures and can reach maturity in 30 to 40 days, or some lettuce varieties.

Still, non-irrigated farms face some risk due to the drought conditions. As Bubl explains, wheat and other grain crops are not irrigated and, at this stage, the subsoil is pretty much depleted.

But for produce lovers, the conditions are hard to beat.

“The crops love the sunshine,” Kellogg says. “I think, overall, this has been a good year.”

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