I recently saw something on a local news channel saying that the month of June this year set a record for rainfall in Indiana. On Saturday, I read an article in the Star about the bumper crops of blueberries this season due to the recent excess of rain in the state. And that got me thinking about the vagaries of weather and how it impacts the produce our vendors bring to the Market.
Our strawberry season was cut short this year by the same rains that are creating an abundance of plump juicy blueberries. Strawberries grow on the ground, while blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries grow on bushes and cherries grow on trees. The strawberries turned to mush in the mud last month, while the fruit growing higher up got the benefit of the rain traveling up through the bush or tree to make the berries plumper and juicier.
The same paradox happens with other crops as well. I spoke with Paul Yoder of Funny Bone Farm last week about the sparse kale display at his booth. “The rain ruined what was left of my kale,” he told me. “The little bit I have here today is the first harvest from a new planting.” The kale, like the aforementioned strawberries, had drowned in the mud. “We’ve also had to be very careful harvesting the onions,” he said. “The ground is so wet, the bulbs are soft and can be damaged when we try to pull them up.”
The beets were another matter though. Paul had plenty of beets because they are much hardier and can tolerate the wet ground better. Crops planted on higher ground will be less effected by the rains, and the quality of the soil can have an impact on drainage as well. Soil with high clay content will hold the water more than a looser, loamier soil. It makes you really appreciate all the farmers have to contend with to bring their produce to market for us!