It rained a lot in April: 21 days. And when it wasn’t raining, it was often cloudy. There are many reasons why too much rain and cloudy weather can make farming difficult.
With the drought of 2016 still fresh in our memories, it may seem like we should be happy that it’s raining. Many farmers would tell you, however, that they prefer a drought over too much rain. Spring involves a lot of tractor work because we are getting the soil ready to plant. But too much rain can cause a number of problems.
If the ground is too wet, the heavy equipment can compact the soil and compromise the health of the crops planted in those fields. Compacted soil can restrict root growth and prevent accessibility to nutrients, as well as make it more difficult for water to filter deeply into the soil. It also takes a few days after a heavy rain for fields to dry out properly. If the sun doesn’t come out in between days of rain, it is still not good practice to use tractors in the fields.
Too much rain can also encourage fungi and other diseases to spread. At this time of year, that could affect some varieties of berries. Meanwhile, young plants that remain in standing water can essentially drown because they also need air to survive, and they may develop shallow roots because they aren’t searching for water. As a result, plants that develop in excessively wet conditions will be less prepared for possible dry weather later in the season.
All that all said, we are lucky at Stearns. Our soil is sandy and dries out fairly quickly. Even though we needed to postpone some tractor work, we have been busy preparing the fields and planting many vegetables, including onions, shallots, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, peas, bush beans, fennel, scallions, parsley, kale, chard, and collards. And for those of you who can’t wait for all of the wonderful summer fruiting crops, we also planted our greenhouse tomatoes last week.
Fingers crossed that we get more sunny days soon!
Until next time,