When January’s chill winds blow and February’s icicles hang heavy from the eaves, we’ve grown accustomed to the vagaries of the fresh produce market. Temperatures plummet in Florida and the orange crop suffers, both in quality and quantity. Too much rain in the Salinas Valley in California and lettuce, tomatoes, spinach and strawberries all take a hit.
What we’re not that accustomed to is the type of summer we’ve had these last few months and the effects that too much sun and hot weather coupled with too little rain have on locally home-grown produce! For the first time since Carl Ohman began growing corn, we didn’t have any “locally” home-grown corn this year. The combination of too little rain and too little help conspired to “shut-down” our regular sources.
Of course, we do have “Southern” corn from the southeast corner of Pennsylvania and Delaware but it’s just not quite the same. The old timers used to say, “put the kettle on to boil and THEN go pick the corn”! For every day that the corn is off the stalk, the more sugar recedes into the cob – where you can’t taste it!
The growers have been hit with a veritable suitcase full of of bad luck this season. I know it’s getting to be a broken record but for the last two years it’s been just one thing after another. The weather, of course, has been counterproductive. Sure, we all like warm and sunny days during our summertime, but too much sun and too high heat can leave crops wilting on the vine. During the month of July, for instance, I can’t remember any rain – more than a brief passing spritz! I have the brown lawn to prove it. Then too, fertilizer costs have risen as much as 250% higher than in previous years.
Labor issues continue to be challenging in the food industry. Even though unemployment is lower, growers and packs continue to struggle to find enough labor to farm their products. Freight is out of sight. We’ve had multiple companies tack a “fuel surcharge” onto the bottom of every bill, with diesel rates soaring to as much as $7 per gallon, a record high. Don’t look for things to change much at least through the end of this year. Inflation continues to soar and the weather is predicted to be hotter than normal right into Autumn.