Thursday, June 18, 2009

April Showers Bring May Flowers but… June Monsoons are not a Boon for Most Plants

Just checked a weather web site and it confirms the feeling most of us in Southeastern PA have…soggy. Only three days out of the last eighteen did not have measurable precipitation. Six inches in the last 30 days; this is 160 % of normal. Minimal sunshine. Below normal temperatures.

My farm friends are hurting. Can’t plant. Too wet. You might not be thinking of Halloween yet but farmers are because pumpkins are a 100-day crop that needs to be in the ground now in order to make fruit by this fall. The sweet corn you enjoy in August is planted in June. Perishable crops such as strawberries that are at peak maturity are melting in the field. Weeds thrive in these conditions and it is impossible to cultivate wet soil. Saturated soils and continually wet foliage are ideal for many plant diseases. Ever seen plant wilt because it’s too wet? I have.

Mother Nature can be cruel to folks trying to grow stuff …. gardeners and farmers. As hard as this can be on gardeners, consider the farmer whose income is dependent on favorable weather. Most fruit and vegetable farmers will take a dry year over a wet one, especially if they have access to irrigation.

Any upside to all of this? Well your lawn probably looks great. If you planted trees this spring the watering chore has been minimal. And this can’t last forever. Gardeners and farmers have to be optimists because if it ain’t one thing it’s another when you are playing ball with Mother Nature.

For those growing ornamental plants, Penn State has a very helpful web site describing plant diseases and their management. Check it out.

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