Thursday, April 26, 2012

More Storms Hit the Farm

Watch this short clip of the first of 4 waves of thunderstorms, wind, and hail to hit our farm today.  The weather has continued to destroy hop vines and what few blueberry blooms are left on the farm. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dig Into Local

We just got back from the Dig Into Local event at the farmers market in Asheville.  The event is in only it's second year and features local farms and their products.  It is a great venue for farms to get their names out there.
In our booth we were selling native blueberries and pushing the idea of creating native pollination habitats.  Of course we talked about hops and butterflies as well.
Hopefully next year there will be a bigger crowd of folks and the event will become a success for all involved including NC Farm Fresh, and Got to be NC Agriculture who sponsored most of the event.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Storm Damage

Another powerful, short lived thunderstorm hit my farm today. 45 MPH winds blew in with such fury that I could not open my eyes, then the heavy pounding rain along with plenty of hail, put the final insult to my hops by breaking vines and more tip loss from hail.
This was just after I, and my faithful farm hand Pat, had just finished an excruciating 12 hour marathon of weeding then clipping and stinging another row of hops to the twine. If you ever had a romantic notion of growing hops, I hope you are reading my blog!
I did manage to get a photo of Pat just after a 10 hour job in the hop yard below. Notice how the vines secret oils that discolor poor Pat's fingers. (Oh, in case you didn't know, I have two field hands. The other one's name is Charlie, my right hand!!)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Freeze On The Farm

This shot of on of my flame azalea's says it all. The warm spell we have been experiencing has finally come to an end and reality has set in. After a month of temperatures 10 degrees or more above average, freezing temperatures once again invaded the region. This is not, and I repeat, not uncommon. ( clicking on any picture will produce a larger image)Another member of the azalea family that was hit hard on our farm was our blueberries. All 300 bushes were in full bloom and receiving ample pollination from our native bees such as the mason bee, the sweat bee, the true bumble bee, and the minor bees. It appears now that this freeze has severely damaged this years crop.
Now it is time to look at what exactly a hard wind and freeze will do to cold hardy hops, or so I thought. The wind just so happened to coincide with my first stringing of my vines. It relentlessly blew up to 35 mph. for two days breaking the tender vines and shaking them loose from the twine. The above photo shows vines broken and laying on the ground.
To top it all off, the next blow to the tender ladies on the vine was a temperature drop down to 29 degrees. Although most of the leaves were not bothered, the tender vine tips were frozen, rendering the growth of that vine prohibitive.
If vines are broken or the tips damaged, that vine will cease to grow vertically, causing the vine to branch into two vines below the damaged area. These vines do not produce as much, putting undo stress on the plant.
Finally as shot of wind and freeze damage taken today, Thursday April 12. All is not over. It is expected to get below freezing again tonight. No doubt, many of my hops will be starting late on the twine operation. We can now at least see, if a delayed vine will produce more hops, causing them to bloom later. In my opinion, I don't think so. Time will tell.
The life of a farmer is totally dependent on the one thing we cannot control, the weather!