For many Californians, including many TFF subscribers, June can be a gloomy time with chilly wind, fog or marine layer clouds blocking the sun. In contrast, June on the farm is normally the sunniest month of the year. Although we occasionally see glimpses of it, the fog never makes it to our location. And the long days before and after the Summer Solstice mean the sun is at its highest point and the days at their longest. It’s normally light enough here to work at 5 a.m. (although we generally start at 6) and stay outside without illumination until 9 pm or even later.
With all that sunshine, it’s normally very hot in June, and we often have our hottest days of the year during this month: the record high temperatures for this, the first week in June, are all over 105 and a few are over 110. Closer to the Solstice, the records are all over 110.
None of the crops we grow like extreme heat, but when it’s 95-105, they grow like crazy. The arrival of hot weather also speeds up the ripening of sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelons, peaches and other crops that form the backbone of our summer harvest.
That’s not happening so far this June. It’s bizarrely cool right now for us: cloudy most mornings with a chilly breeze. Yesterday we had sprinkles and a thunderstorm. I’m not sure whose weather this is, but it’s not ours. “June Gloom” is not a Central Valley thing.
Strawberries, of course, don’t like the heat and so we’re looking at one of our latest-lasting berry seasons ever. We’re very happy to have them and hope you are as well. Some of our crops don’t seem to mind the unusually cool weather either — Peaches are ripening more or less normally, the Zucchini is going strong, and we’ve started harvesting Cucumbers.
Our other summer crops, though, are painfully behind schedule thanks to the never-ending cool weather. Tomatoes are flowering like crazy and loading up with green fruit, but it will take some hot weather to get them to ripen. Corn, green beans, watermelons, and cantelopes are all going to be very late to the party. Crops we are normally picking in June won’t be ready until July.
Some vegetables love this weather. So why not plant some lettuce or kale ? If someone could tell me with 100% certainty that it was going to stay cool and cloudy all summer this year, I would. But in all likelihood, it’s still going to be too hot here in July and August for “cool season” crops like those. Our average high temperature in those months is 93.
So while we await the arrival of our most summery crops, we will be filling your boxes up with lots of fruit: Peaches, nectarines and until it gets hot…Strawberries.