While a heat wave is striking most of the southern and eastern United States and burning up crops, Oregon has now had it’s second consecutive cold wet spring and summer, much to the dismay of many home gardeners and commercial growers.
Locally, as many people have been complaining about the weather ruining their summer plans, the lack of warm, dry weather has also had an impact the farmers. The continuous cold is slowing the crops and putting a bit of a damper on growers’ livelihoods.
Lori Loe, owner of the Silver Fall’s Seed Co., farms close to 2,000 acres for seed production. Her business has been affected by the weather to some extent.
“We have been running our flower seed business since 1999, and with the unseasonably cold weather, it is preventing the plants from being vigorous and we are two to three weeks behind”, Loe said.
“This is the latest we have ever been and things are really slowing down from the weather. Even last year, which was very cool, we were only two weeks behind.”
Loe’s company plants seed crops around the Silverton area each year and is affiliated with Triangle Farms, a sixth-generation family farm which produces flower seed, grass seed, wildflower seed, herbs and legumes, timber, Christmas trees, nursery stock, grains, livestock and fresh market produce.
Bill Schiedler is owner of Garden Ripe, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm and a well-known Silverton Farmer’s Market vendor. He says the lack of a warm summer has been a problem for some of his crops, but cool weather loving crops such as cabbages and snap peas and leafy crops such as kale, lettuce and swiss chard have thrived.
“Those are doing well although many of the warm weather loving crops, such as the peppers, eggplants and tomatoes are slowed down and are showing different rates of growth.
“They are not doing as well as if it had been a summer of 85 degree weather, but with the polytunnel greenhouses we have over the plants, they are coming along,“ Schiedler said. “So far we have not seen any powdery mildew, which can be caused by moisture from rain for a period of time and then warm weather,” Schiedler said.
According to most strawberry and cherry farmers, those crops are lagging by almost a month.
Even local beekeepers are seeing a difference.
“Some spots for nectar for the bees are really good and other areas are really spotty.” Kevin Dietrich of Dietrich Apiaries said.
He and his brother Rick have run around 200 hives of bees for crop pollinization for the last five years.
“In some bad spots we are having to feed the bees sugar water to give them something to feed on,” Dietrich said. His hives are primarily placed in fields of blueberries, Meadow Seafoam, onions, radishes, cabbages and flowers.
“The farmers are nice to work with, it is great to work outside and to meet other people. Plus there is a big demand for honey,” he said, holding out hope for the rest of the season.
“The weather is affecting us to some extent, but not too badly. I don’t think it will effect us long-term this year,” Dietrich said.