Hot Weather in Oregon

We have been getting some above normal temperatures here in the Pacific Northwest. Last week we saw some record breaking temperatures go up into the 110-115 range (even higher in some areas), which made air conditioning feel incredible and the stress of what was happening to our crops not so amazing.

It’s hard to say how it affected our crops. When I walk around assessing what might be damaged it all seems very inconsistent. Some crops seem unaffected, while others have shown that it was clearly too hot for them.

We have green beans that were trying their best to bloom during this time. We poured the water on and I think escaped with not too much damage to the blooms, but the plant themselves have seemed to have stalled somewhat. Sort of like saying “What on earth was that??!!”

This is in an area that got consistent water through the hottest days.
These beans plants were on the edge of the field and only got about half as much water as the rest.

Our hazelnuts in some areas look like you took a blow torch to them; and in other areas they look just fine.

We had about half of our grass seed cut for harvest, and I’m sure knocked a fair amount of seed onto the ground while cutting in less than ideal conditions.

So when asked “How did the crops do in the heat?” I honestly have nothing more to say beyond “We will know more after harvest.” Because until our crops get trucked across scales it’s always a tough call on what the effects actually were. Until then we will keep taking care of our crops the best we know how, keep trying to protect them from the things that we can control, and pray Mother Nature is done with the “extremes” this year.

Hoot’s Farm Tour!!

It’s been awhile since we have been able to host a tour group at the farm. It’s one of my favorite things, showing folks around our farm and letting them experience a little of our farm life. So when Hoot asked if we could have a farm tour for his school birthday party, the answer was “ABSOLUTELY!!”

And while it’s one of my favorite things, I quickly learned that it’s also Hoot’s. He basically gave the whole tour for all his friends and they had a great time climbing on tractors, learning about crops like crimson clover, and even getting to dig into bins of grass seed, swiss chard seed, and clover seed.

Some other highlights were showing off some farm displays that the kids built for their friends to see, and also going on combine rides.

As folks get more removed from the land and from the farming roots, that inevitably most people have somewhere in their lineage, it’s always nice to give a chance for people to see a working farm. Which is why I have always said that we have an “open farm door” policy here at Kirsch Family Farms. We love to have people take us up on the opportunity to show them around. It always sparks great conversations, allows for people to see what we are up to, and get the chance to ask, “Why do you do it that way?”.

I have to say though, during this tour, it was an absolute joy to watch our kids showing their friends around. I think the “open farm door” policy won’t stop at my generation. Which is just fine by me.

Spring Orchard Preparation

We have had some beautiful weather here lately. And while if I was in charge of the weather, we would have had a few more rainy days the past two weeks, I’m not, so here we are.

This variety is just starting to push leaves out.

But as they say, make hay while the sun shines. So we have been out doing all we can while it’s dry. Which for filbert (hazelnut) farmers that means a lot of orchard preparation.

While we don’t harvest these nuts until the fall, this is a great time of year to prepare the soil to be nice and flat, clean of debris, and ready to pick up nuts off the ground once they fall at maturity.

So what does that mean? It means grabbing those last few branches off the ground, flailing up the leaf material and grass, that’s been left for erosion control through the winter rains. Then scraping the ground to level it out from any tracks or erosion that may have occurred.

While harvest is only a small portion of the year, for many of our crops the maintenance of the crop and the soil underneath is a year round project. We want to keep the worms happy so we allow the leaves to remain for food and nutrients for them. We also allow grass to grow to protect the soil. But all of that has to be reset at some point to allow for those nuts to be picked up off the ground for harvest.

Next up for the orchards is getting fertilizer applied, possibly some irrigation and some foliar applications to keep the tree healthy and happy during the growing season. Then eventually harvest this fall.

We don’t always get this large dry window to get the orchards ready this early, but we will take advantage where we can and control what we can control. Because like I said, the weather is one place where I definitely don’t call the shots!