Weather is always a factor for farmers, but will this year’s dramatic weather impact your favorite farms and foods? The 2020 growing season is well under way, and has featured weeks of the brilliant sunshine that many crops need to thrive. However, there have been some challenges weather-wise. After a fairly mild winter with less snowfall than usual, May proved to be volatile. There were hot, humid days breaking ’90s degrees even as far north as Caribou, contrasting with chilly periods. Then there was a widespread frost on June 1st. June proved to be extremely dry, and many areas of the state experienced drought conditions. (In fact, Aroostook County experienced the driest June on record for 100 years.) What does this dramatic weather mean for your favorite seasonal foods?
- Some crops are doing extremely well. Strawberries, for example, have been large, plentiful, and sweet.
- The growing season for some produce may be shorter than usual. This year the asparagus season ended more quickly than usual. Unusually hot and/or dry weather could impact other popular summer produce, such as peas. The best policy is to buy it when you see it, because it may not last long!
- There may be a little less of some products in some areas this year. If the June frost hit a particular orchard or blueberry hard, for example, production will be down. There will be plenty of berries, tree fruits and all your other favorites, but when you see your favorite produce for sale, pick some up!
- There will be variation between farms. If your favorite farm stand doesn’t have a particular fruit or vegetable this year, keep looking! It’s likely another farm in the vicinity has had better luck with that particular item this year.
- If you’re passionate about a particular summer food (hello, sweet corn!), ask your farmer what they are expecting this year and when. You might be able to pre-order, or get tips about when the first harvest will be available.
- This will be a great summer to try something new! Maine farmers tend to grow diverse crops, and many add a novel variety or two each year. Try something different, and you may find a new favorite.
There’s much to look forward to in the coming months. Summer in Maine is short, so don’t miss a chance to explore and experience local flavors!