Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Summer Crops Winding Down

It's true - peppers, eggplant, summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans...  They are with us for such a short period of time.  And, now we will do without them again for a while.

We do keep records of all of our crops.  But, we don't have time to keep running totals of all crops as the season progresses.  So, we are selective based on the usefulness of an up to date set of data.

For example, summer squash vines need to be picked regularly to keep them producing.  There is no such thing as pacing the picking schedule.  You just pick them when they are ready - and keep picking them.  There may be a bit of scheduling within a week so all of our CSA members get similar amounts.  But, that is about the extent of it.  So, as long as I am aware of the last couple of pick amounts, the condition of the plants and the upcoming demand - we are fine.

On the other hand, most pepper plants have some flexibility with respect to their picking schedule.  I can leave some peppers on plants longer to wait for color change.  Or, I can rotate row picking to try to optimize the size and taste without giving up another set of fruit.  But, working that out requires tracking as the season progresses.

Thus, I have numbers for things like peppers.

Our three year average for total sweet pepper production
This year so far

But, in some ways, I like this year's number better.

Now it is your turn - ask me "why?"  Please...  Ok, I'll tell you anyway.

In previous years we didn't govern our crop as well as this year - leaving us with very large numbers of peppers needing to be picked prior to frost.  And, thus, finding us with far more than the CSA would use in a given week and a bunch of fine peppers that we didn't have an immediate market for.  We have also learned better how to keep peppers in the field through a frost.  Thus reducing the necessity for a 'monster' pick in the days prior.  We did still pick certain things to get them out of the field - but it simply wasn't the same.

2009 - we picked over 1000 sweet peppers in the final week of September to preempt coming cold weather.  We picked nothing after that - the plants did not survive.  But - the point is - we should not have had that many marketable peppers still on the plants at that time.

By my calculations - if we remove the bump up in picking from the frost picks - our average would be closer to 3500.  The extra peppers were still good, but they often did not bring any income to the farm, nor did they go to the CSA.  Many did go to the food bank in a couple of instances.  So, of course, it was nice to have them.  But, we'd be just as happy donating as many peppers to the food bank over the course of several weeks.

So...average sweet pepper production with frost 'bump' removed:
This year so far with adjustment for slight frost 'bump':

Yep, that works.

1 comment:

  1. For those few who care and may read back to see a comment on a post....

    We officially broke the 4000 fruit mark for sweet peppers out of the field this season. This is momentous because that is our yearly stated 'goal' for this crop. It should be well within our grasp given the number and types of plants we grow.

    Our goal is our 'acceptable harvest level' and should not be confused with our 'harvest capacity.' My calculations suggest our capacity numbers are closer to 6000. Here's to testing that calculation next season!


Thank you for your input! We appreciate hearing what you have to say.