Friday, October 18, 2013

What's a Half-Ton Pickup For?

Actually, we know what a half-ton pickup is for.  It's for picking up and carrying a half-ton of produce every so often.  And, actually, Tammy and I have done the mental gymnastics every so often to estimate our CSA farm share load weight.  Let's just say that the maximum is more than a half ton.  Poor Chumley (our truck), he gets asked to put up with so much.

Chumley the truck.
I started wondering about what a half-ton of various vegetables might look like.  This, of course, got me to thinking about numbers (OH NO! Mom!!! He's talking about numbers again!).

Thus far this year we have picked over 2100 heads of lettuce.  Of course, with all of our lettuce types, you have to expect that you will get a fair amount of variability in size.  But, we seem to be just under a half pound per head of lettuce this season.  As a result, we are at 929 pounds of lettuce so far. 

Now, while you might be impressed with the numbers or the aggregate weight of all of that lettuce, you really should be impressed with another fact.  Rob has picked that many heads of lettuce this year using a sharp lettuce knife.  Last we looked, he still had all of his fingers.  Now THAT is an accomplishment.

Crispmint Lettuce
Let us ( no.) look at this another way.  A nice head of Crispmint romaine will average about .6 pounds.  We can put about 20 heads into one of our coolers.  In order to get a half ton of Crispmint, we would need to fill more than 83 coolers.  I'm afraid our truck can't do that.  For that matter, I don't want to purchase or store 83 coolers. 

We have pulled in over 980 pounds of carrots from our fields this year.  These are only the carrots we have grown at Genuine Faux Farm, I have yet to calculate what Jeff Sage has grown for the CSA.  There are still carrots to dig, so we should easily cross the half ton mark. 

St Valery carrots

In order to picture this, it took a 200 foot long seed bed that is approximately one tractor width or about 2 tiller widths wide.  One of our yellow trays that you may have seen at distributions can hold about 33 pounds of carrots when it is full.  So, we would need over 30 of these trays in order to hold a half ton of carrots.  It is possible to stack these 5 high in the truck, so I could put a half ton of carrots into these trays and then drive around town with them.  But, I'd rather not.

2013 Carrot Seedbed
Those wonderful, meaty red tomatoes called Italian Heirloom have treated us well this season.  In fact, they have been larger this year than we've seen other seasons.  After today's pick, we have harvested 885 of them for a total of approximately 750 pounds.  Ok, that's not a half ton.  So, we'll add in our 250 pounds of tasty Black Krim tomatoes from the field (400+ fruit). 

Wait?  What was that?  Did I actually weigh all of those tomatoes?  Well no, what do you think I am?  A numbers freak?  geeeeeeez.

In any event, we *do* count all marketable fruit as they are harvested.  This helps us assess varieties and the season.  It is also important so we know what we can give people at our CSA distributions.  So, there are reasons for all of this.  As for weights, we take random samples and weigh them periodically to confirm and refine our average weight per fruit that we use for calculations.  This is particularly useful when someone orders 50 pounds of tomatoes. 

Italian Heirloom tomatoes

But, getting back to the half-ton pickup thing...  Italian heirlooms might fit 20 to a white tray.  So, 59 white trays full of them would do the trick.  We can stack these 6 high in the truck.  Again, I think I can manage to put 10 stacks in the truck, but I'd need to order more white trays.

Record Setters in 2013
Despite the slow start this year, we did have a few tomato varieties that decided they liked us this year more than any other year.

German Pink, Black Krim, Druzba and Nebraska Wedding all set records for harvest in our fields this year.  Italian Heirloom did very well, but had an insane record (from 2010 - 1128 fruit) it had to beat.  Of the records set, we're happiest with German Pink and Black Krim.  Fruit were generally of the highest quality and slightly bigger than prior years.  Taste quality for all were exceptional.  Druzba and Nebraska Wedding had some issues with cracking we didn't appreciate, but the fruit still held well enough.

Boothby's Blonde cucumbers blew right on past the previous record and landed over 2000 fruit this season.  In this case, we can attribute it to both the season *and* our experience learning what they need to keep going.  The A&C Pickling cucumbers also set a record.  But, in this case, we need to consider the fact that we grew twice as much as we've ever grown. 

You'll probably notice we have favorite veg when it comes to numbers crunching.  But, be honest, numbers of tomatoes or cucumbers is easier to visualize and appreciate than stems of kale or pounds of broccoli side shoots, isn't it?

Still Going...Waspi Peach report
The Wapsi Peaches in the high tunnel are still producing, but slowing down.  This weekend's cool weather may finish them - which we think will be a sad thing.  Five plants and over 750 tomatoes (150 per plant).  And they are a winner for taste. 

Since the last report ( a few people have asked how they are doing) the Red Zebras are at 112 per plant and are slowing down significantly.  The Green Zebras picked up the slack and are at 82 per plant.  There is an outside shot for them to reach 100 per plant by the end of next week.

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