The strangest June we’ve had in years continued this weekend as an extremely rare series of thunderstorms plowed through Yolo and Solano counties yesterday complete with hundreds of lightning strikes and even hail. We got a little soaking of rain, but nowhere near the half inch that areas just a few miles away got. Which is good.
The bigger story, however, has been the chilly temperatures we’ve had since Memorial Day. On Sunday it was 52 degrees at four p.m., which would be cold for June even if it was during the night, but is unheard of for this time of year during the day — over thirty degrees below average for that date.
And now the weather forecast tells us it will be over a hundred in four days, and stay that way for possibly an entire week.
Most people have had the experience of walking from air-conditioned building into summer heat. It’s a shocking and unpleasant. The people and plants that make our farm tick are going to experience this on a macro scale, and we’re a little worried about how it’s going to go.
We have at least one heatwave in June almost every year. But this year we’ve had hardly any hot weather at all; instead its been mostly cool and breezy. Not only have we not acclimated to hot weather, we’ve gotten used to it being temperate.
Most of the summer crops we grow actually prefer it pretty warm, so they have not been growing as quickly as normal. And the fruit they produce is ripening much more slowly than it normally would in early June. This means we are harvesting less each week.
When it’s cool, the plants also use less water and the soil doesn’t dry out as quickly. So we’ve been irrigating less — continuing the trend for the year of using much less water than normal.
Less heat, less water, less crops translates into us having less work, and more time to get it done. All of that is about to change, almost overnight. Multiple days of hot weather, especially with hot nights, turns our summer crops up to 11. They grow faster, their fruit ripens faster, they use more water. On the farm, this translates into more work and shorter deadlines.
Meanwhile, the heat makes the work harder for everyone doing it. Which is why we’ve been trying to take advantage of the cool weather to get caught on other work: weeding, tying up tomato plants, and harvesting our onions and garlic.
Summer is about to arrive with a bang. We’re hoping we are ready.