FARM NEWS from Fred Owens
October 11, 2010
The frost is not yet on the pumpkin, but on some mornings it feels a little crisp and we all know what's coming.
Watch this video for a detailed report about the weather and the "largest kohlrabi in captivity."
The long-range forecast for the Pacific Northwest is for a cold and wet winter. Nobody is thrilled about that.
You have three kinds of people in this country. The first kind love the rain and it makes them happy. The second kind say they love the rain, but they're lying. The third kind just endure it and try not to complain too much.
I'm one of the third kind, and I'm going to Southern California this winter because I need a break.
A lucky break, it turns out, because that same long-range forecast predicts a warmer and drier winter down south.
So, here's the news.
Grape Harvest, from the Los Angeles Times. California's signature crop, the grape harvest is coming in late. What a surprise! It's been a cool, wet summer from San Diego to Seattle and everything is late.
The article states, "most red grapes remain on the vine statewide, anywhere from 10 days to three weeks later than last year."
Late -- and what can you do but wait.
Here's another quote from the article, more complicated, but intriguing -- if you ask me.
"This is a normal cyclical pattern for La Niña," says Peter Cargasacchi of Cargasacchi Winery in the Santa Rita Hills. "If you were aware of that, you could incorporate farming practices based on the historical patterns of the weather." For Cargasacchi, that meant leaving a cover crop between vine rows to suck up excess winter rainwater, then deficit irrigation to stimulate the vines into ripening — "to give them a sense of urgency," he says.
Okay, this vintner did more than just wait. He was expecting the La Nina pattern to bring cooler, wetter weather. So he planted grass and clover between the rows of grapes to soak up the excessive rain fall.
Then he did deficit irrigation -- this is the sexy part, almost a tease -- meaning he cut way, way back on his watering in mid-summer -- to make those grape vines work harder, to put down their roots deeper, to conserve their energy and not produce too many leaves -- that is, to give them a sense of urgency.
That is highly anthropomorphic, as he put it -- to give the grape vines a sense of urgency.
Do plants feel urgency? Are they like us in some ways? We gather the grapes, we make the wine, and then we drink it.
That spirit, from the earth, comes to us through our palates.
That urgency, from mid-summer, has now, in fall harvest, become a fullness, and a good vintage is expected for 2010.
It's never a sure thing. Urgency is natural. And Harvest-Home is often the reward.
So, that's the farm news from California. I will be driving down that way in three weeks, and this newsletter will have more reports on the vast complexity of California agriculture. I hope you find it interesting.
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