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Rain damages crops, but washes away salt

A hail storm that blew through Escondido a few weeks back ruined a few important crops.

Despite the rain, some locally grown blueberries (and strawberries) may be found in March.
Despite the rain, some locally grown blueberries (and strawberries) may be found in March.

It’s not news to any of us that this winter has been the wettest in roughly a decade. While San Diego area farms typically do enjoy year-round growing conditions, the parade of “atmospheric rivers” and other storms have certainly had an impact. Touching base with several farmers in the county, it’s clear that, while they’ve enjoyed the abundance of free water, the inclemency has affected the timing and quantity of crops heading into the spring.

Place

J.R. Organics

31030 Rodriguez Road, Escondido

For example, JR Organics reports the storms have kept the farmers from planting some crops, while others have been washed away or blown apart by winds. Additionally, a hail storm that blew through Escondido a few weeks back ruined a few important crops, including sugar snap peas. However, they are enthusiastic to be out of drought conditions and assure they still have full fields furnishing healthy March crops of blueberries, strawberries, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and squash.

Up in Bonsall, Adam Maciel’s organic farm (31952 Aquaduct Road) does have sugar snap peas coming in March. However, it has generally experienced delays due to not being able to transport seedlings from its greenhouses. While some of their yields have been delayed as much as a month, the family anticipates long term benefits of the heavy rains, including salt build up being washed from their soil. Despite some reduced quantities, Maciel’s stands still feature plenty of leafy greens in March, plus the likes of green garlic and dandelions, and should see summer squashes by the end of March.

While it’s strawberries are coming in on schedule, Oceanside’s Rodney Kawano Farms,on Wilshire Road in the San Luis Rey River valley, also reports a month-long slowdown. So does Good Taste Farm, though its farmers point out it wasn’t merely rain and wind slowing things down, but a lack of sun encouraging plants to sprout. Nevertheless, that doesn’t affect tree crops like citrus in the same way, so the Fallbrook growers are bringing navel and blood oranges to market, and also report leafy greens and onions on the way.

Place

Stehly Farms Organics

12630 Santa Catalina Road, Valley Center

Last year at this time, Stehly Farms was beginning to harvest hass avocados, but this season it’s holding off due to a 50 to 70-percent smaller than normal yield. However, co-owner Noel Stehly explains the rains aren’t responsible for this reduction. Rather, he attributes it to the lack of rain last year, and salt build up in the soil.

While this winter’s rain came too late to give Stehly a profitable avocado yield this year, and parts of the farm’s incoming strawberry crop were lost, Stehly says, “That’s okay, I’ll take the rain.” With cleaner soil, and cleaner water than the piped-in water he typically has to pay for, Stehly hopes to see better than average crops growing over the next three or four months. And, with luck, this year’s wet winter will lead to a more robust avocado season next year.

In the meantime, plenty of strawberries have come through in good shape, Stehly Farm shops will have gold nugget tangerines, Meyer lemons, and navel oranges through early March, with locally grown asparagus, cauliflower and broccoli showing up over the course of the month.

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Despite the rain, some locally grown blueberries (and strawberries) may be found in March.
Despite the rain, some locally grown blueberries (and strawberries) may be found in March.

It’s not news to any of us that this winter has been the wettest in roughly a decade. While San Diego area farms typically do enjoy year-round growing conditions, the parade of “atmospheric rivers” and other storms have certainly had an impact. Touching base with several farmers in the county, it’s clear that, while they’ve enjoyed the abundance of free water, the inclemency has affected the timing and quantity of crops heading into the spring.

Place

J.R. Organics

31030 Rodriguez Road, Escondido

For example, JR Organics reports the storms have kept the farmers from planting some crops, while others have been washed away or blown apart by winds. Additionally, a hail storm that blew through Escondido a few weeks back ruined a few important crops, including sugar snap peas. However, they are enthusiastic to be out of drought conditions and assure they still have full fields furnishing healthy March crops of blueberries, strawberries, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and squash.

Up in Bonsall, Adam Maciel’s organic farm (31952 Aquaduct Road) does have sugar snap peas coming in March. However, it has generally experienced delays due to not being able to transport seedlings from its greenhouses. While some of their yields have been delayed as much as a month, the family anticipates long term benefits of the heavy rains, including salt build up being washed from their soil. Despite some reduced quantities, Maciel’s stands still feature plenty of leafy greens in March, plus the likes of green garlic and dandelions, and should see summer squashes by the end of March.

While it’s strawberries are coming in on schedule, Oceanside’s Rodney Kawano Farms,on Wilshire Road in the San Luis Rey River valley, also reports a month-long slowdown. So does Good Taste Farm, though its farmers point out it wasn’t merely rain and wind slowing things down, but a lack of sun encouraging plants to sprout. Nevertheless, that doesn’t affect tree crops like citrus in the same way, so the Fallbrook growers are bringing navel and blood oranges to market, and also report leafy greens and onions on the way.

Place

Stehly Farms Organics

12630 Santa Catalina Road, Valley Center

Last year at this time, Stehly Farms was beginning to harvest hass avocados, but this season it’s holding off due to a 50 to 70-percent smaller than normal yield. However, co-owner Noel Stehly explains the rains aren’t responsible for this reduction. Rather, he attributes it to the lack of rain last year, and salt build up in the soil.

While this winter’s rain came too late to give Stehly a profitable avocado yield this year, and parts of the farm’s incoming strawberry crop were lost, Stehly says, “That’s okay, I’ll take the rain.” With cleaner soil, and cleaner water than the piped-in water he typically has to pay for, Stehly hopes to see better than average crops growing over the next three or four months. And, with luck, this year’s wet winter will lead to a more robust avocado season next year.

In the meantime, plenty of strawberries have come through in good shape, Stehly Farm shops will have gold nugget tangerines, Meyer lemons, and navel oranges through early March, with locally grown asparagus, cauliflower and broccoli showing up over the course of the month.

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