Vision clearing at Riverland, Update on fall crops

Brussels Sprouts at Riverland right now

From Riverland Farmers Rob and Meghan:
Dear Friends, 
      The sunshine has been abundant in the last couple of weeks drying out the fields and the farmers.  I remember Dave, who works on the crew, saying at one point this year, “It’s amazing what we can accomplish with one sunny day”.  It is indeed true. With more than one sunny day at our disposal, we kicked it into high gear put our heads down and began to plow through the list of projects that had been significantly lengthened by inclement weather.  We cultivated every square inch of the farm that we could still get into with a tractor, we hand weeded beds upon beds, we mowed some of our favorite summer crops that had come to an end, we planted several final transplantings of the year including broccoli, kohlrabi, fennel, chard, and scallions.  We did so much since I last wrote that it is hard to even remember the extent of it.  All the while we kept up with an ever increasing harvest.

For the most part the fall crops look good.  Carrots, beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, brussels sprouts, kale, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, and salad greens all seem poised for average harvests or better.  The carrots and brussels sprouts in particular look like they might be the stars of this fall’s harvest.  There are a few crops that either the jury is still out on or ones that we know are not great.  Our onion crop this year has been challenging.  We had some great fresh onions earlier in the season and our storage onions did look good until we had a “Bermuda Triangle” of forces working to stop our storage onions from becoming the crop that we so badly wanted them to be.  The driving rain, a pest (onion thrips), and a disease (purple blotch) all teamed up. While this trifecta wasn’t completely successful in making our onions do a Bermuda Triangle like disappearing act, it is obvious that our harvest this year will be diminished.  The other fall crop that doesn’t appear to be doing well is the winter squash.  The periods of torrential rain and standing water that hit early on in the life of this crop actually caused young fruit to rot on the plant.  As a result the canopy of squash vines is masquerading as a squash field but underneath the yield looks like it will be very poor.  We did plant squash in two separate fields this year and the planting that we did in the field that drains better looks decent so we will have something to show for our effort.  In one final nasty turn of events we did lose over a 1/2 acre of young broccoli and cauliflower that we planted three weeks ago to either a single or more likely a number of groundhogs.  This field that we had planted is new to us this year.  It was fallow for a number of years before now and we spent a lot of time this spring and early summer trying to free it of some tenacious weeds.  We had pretty much won the weed battle in this field but unfortunately we lost the groundhog battle.  Thankfully it was one of many of our successions of fall broccoli and cauliflower so we will still have these crops in the share.  In fact this week brings the first of the fall broccoli into the share. 

     This year it has felt like I’m consistently dishing out the news of failure.  While it hasn’t been the best of years I’m still very happy with the shares we have put together each week.  In some way at the end of August, while completely crazy and busy with the height of the harvest season, we are able to breathe a sigh of relief.  By now just about all the crops are planted and we pretty much know what has made it and done well and what hasn’t and won’t.  There’s less time spent worrying and wondering about where the icebergs lie in the dark and more time spent reflecting and calculating how to steer the ship going forward (it’s almost like having a pair of night vision goggles or better yet radar!).  When your vision is blurred by things that you wish had turned out differently it can be difficult to see how many things there are to be to be happy about on this farm.  One thing that I am personally very happy to see is the return of the salad greens to the share this week!!!
We hope you enjoy the harvest!
On behalf of the farm crew Dave, Christine, Jason, Andrew, Juan, Andres, Eduardo, Kristen, and Amanda


Your Farmers,

Rob, Meghan, and Cayden