Thursday, September 17, 2015

Crop Report

Last season, we put out a post in October that showed some of our progress with respect to our crop goals for the year.  Some people found it interesting to see what we are aiming for and how well we are doing.  In fact, there were a few people that actually noticed we updated the numbers as the season continued.  We realize the people most likely to care about this are your farmers.  But, we also believe that our CSA members might find it of some interest and our workers (who have all moved on) might enjoy seeing how things worked (or didn't).

We tend to set two goals for ourselves.   The first is a number we think is reasonable AND should provide us with plenty to meet obligations (CSA, etc) and provide additional sales opportunities.  The second is a goal we think we really have to get in order to just meet obligations.  Additional sales would be minimal in that case.
All numbers with * are subject to change as the season continues.

Green Beans
   goal - 800 pounds                                                   minimum goal - 650 pounds
   2015: 888.5 pounds *                                              2014: 812 pounds
   goal - 500 pounds                                                     minimum goal - 400 pounds
   2015: 369.8 pounds *                                                2014: 674.4 pounds
   goal - 4000 fruit                                                        minimum goal - 3000 fruit
   2015: 2898 fruit                                                        2014: 2142 fruit
   goal - 3000 head                                                       minimum goal - 2000 head
   2015: 3393 head                                                       2014: 3153 head
Bell and Sweet Peppers
   goal - 4000 fruit                                                       minimum goal - 3000 fruit
   2015: 4121 fruit  *                                                   2014: 4405 fruit
   goal - 1400 fruit                                                       minimum goal - 1000 fruit
   2015: 936 fruit                                                         2014: 1318 fruit
   goal -  750 pounds                                                   minimum goal -  500 pounds 
   2015 -  323 pounds *                                            2014 -  457.1 pounds
   goal - 500 fruit                                                        min goal - 300 fruit
   2015 - 644 fruit                                                      2014 - 385 fruit
   goal - 2000 bulbs                                                    min goal - 1500 bulbs
   2015 - 3598 bulbs                                                  2014 - 2298 bulbs 
Winter Squash
   goal - 1000 fruit                                                     min goal - 500 fruit
   2015 - 638 fruit    *                                                  2014 - 64 fruit
Snow Peas
   goal - 250 pounds                                                  min goal - 100 pounds
   2015 - 445.4 pounds                                            2014 - 66 pounds
   goal - 2500 pounds                                               min goal - 1000 pounds
   2015 - 867.2 pounds *                                          2014 - 416.4 pounds
   goal - 600 pounds                                                min goal - 400 pounds
   2015 - 296.3 pounds    *                                       2014 - 36.5 pounds
   goal - 300 pounds                                                min goal - 250 pounds
   2015 - 396.4 pounds    *                                       2014 - 287.2 pounds
Pok Choi
   goal - 400 pounds                                                min goal - 300 pounds
   2015 - 166.4 pounds    *                                       2014 - 628.2 pounds
   goal - 100 pounds                                                min goal - 75 pounds
   2015 - 94.6 pounds    *                                       2014 - 63.5 pounds
Snack Tomato
   goal - 2000 fruit                                                  min goal - 1500 fruit
   2015 - 3161 fruit    *                                            2014 - 1925 fruit

This is just a sampling of our harvest so far and some of the general goals we set for ourselves for production.  If you have interest in some of our other crops, let us know and we'll add them to this list!

Obviously, some of the crops listed here will have their numbers change dramatically very soon.  For example, the potatoes and winter squash tend to get harvested as whole rows rather than as things ripen.  And, we have many feet of carrots still to be dug from the ground.

Other crops, such as zucchini and green beans, are clearly winding down and their numbers may not change much from what you see here.  On the other hand, the Fall lettuce is in the ground and won't get harvested until October and November, so you can expect changes in those numbers.

A Note About Units
 You might note that some of our crops are measured in pounds and others by the fruit.  The reality is that we keep measurements for both for many of our crops.  Counting the number of heads, fruits or stems is a function of how we harvest for our farm share CSA.  If you have 60 people to deliver tomatoes to then you need tomatoes in increments of 60 or more.  Depending on the tomato type, that could be 10 pounds or 60 pounds.  For some crops, we have not kept weight records every season, so we revert to the standard count (zucchini for example).

The Good
Minnesota Midget
We've had some very nice success stories this season with some of our crops.  And, in a couple of cases the increase in production is partly due to a cumulative effect from efforts we've undertaken to improve these crops.  In other words, these are not just flukes - they are a result of some concerted efforts to make production of these items better on our farm.  The melons and onions have been improving from year to year for some time now.  So, it is really nice to see the spike this year.  We suspect we'll cut back the peas a little bit since the numbers we had this year might be unsustainable for us.  The melons on the other hand, are close to where we want them.  Though, we might like a chance to find a market for extra melons in the future.  Can you imagine?  Certified organic melons in the Cedar Valley.  Hmmmmmm.  But, for now, we'll settle for replicating 2015 numbers in 2016.

The Not So Good
Black Beauty
We've had a number of crops that are doing well enough, but certainly not making us want to sing their praises.  For example, the eggplant keep plugging along, but they make Rob visit every plant to make sure he has enough for each distribution.  On the other hand, the quality of the eggplant for taste has been high.

Other crops that didn't exactly make us really happy, but on review, they did (or are doing) what we need them to do (but not much more) include cucumbers and lettuce (just to name a couple).

We should probably work on our attitude regarding these crops.  It is natural for us to set high goals for every single crop and it is equally natural for us to be somewhat disappointed if we don't hit the higher goals for each and every crop.  But, if you look carefully, the cucumbers did just fine (and did far better than many other farms' cukes).

And the Ugly
We did not have many really bad crops on the farm this year.  Yes, we planted alot of watermelon plants in order to get our 20 or so watermelons.  So, that one would qualify as a crop failure if it weren't for the small batch of Orangeglo watermelon plants we slipped into a corner by the melons.

The issue this season has been some of the abrupt exits of crops that we expected to go longer into the season.  Usually, we would just now be saying good-bye to the cucumbers.  But, they've been done for weeks now.  And, usually, we would expect all kinds of side shoots from our broccoli.  But, this year, we have some problems due to the humid, cool weather that are likely going to force us to remove the plants.

It's hard to gripe about these things when we can honestly say that we had some fabulous broccoli prior to this point.  And, Tammy and I will treat ourselves to one of the dinged up Orangeglo watermelons this weekend (we've tried one already and it's fabulous).

So, here's to a year with limited Ugly!


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