Could the Weird Weather Be Affecting Our Crops?

Author: Meera, August 21, 2013


Nectarines are ripening but the tree recently developed peach leaf curl

Nectarines are ripening but the tree recently developed peach leaf curl, noticeable in the top right leaves


Since the beginning of the agrarian age, farmers have understood that weather affects crops. To say the weather this year–at least in Northern California–has been weird is an understatement. I can’t help thinking it’s impacting my garden.


In the last three weeks, my healthy nectarine trees developed that dreaded fungal peach leaf curl, despite the prescribe spraying throughout the dormant season with horticultural oil. I’ve got tomato vines spreading everywhere with few tomatoes. The corn developed such a terrible infestation of corn aphids that I pulled out all the corn and fed it to the chickens.


I’m not blaming the weather for my all garden woes, but it’s got to be a factor in what my neighbors and I are witnessing in our gardens and orchards with regard to less bountiful crops.


We have to water because the soil is so dry it’s cracking open. We have to stay on top of pest infestations as we all grow organic and the bees travel through all of our backyards and up to five miles or so. We share our produce and stories of what’s happening in our gardens so we can deal with the problems.


We had very little rain during our rainy season and now local reservoirs are low. For the last three days, the Bay Area has had over 11,000 dry lightning strikes (putting fire departments on high alert), temperatures inching toward triple digits, and high particulate in the air because of all the wildfires burning in our state and elsewhere in the West.


I heard a recent newscaster using that dreaded word “drought” and lamenting about the low level of water currently available for farmers to use for their crops and orchards, especially in the California’s Central Valley, an area considered an important “bread basket” of the United States. The good news is that those farmers will be winding down their water usage as fall approaches and crops are harvested.


Smaller than usual produce size

Smaller than usual produce size



As the weather goes, so do the crops–something farmers and gardeners have always understood. My garden woes likely have a lot to do with the head gardener–that’s me. But I’ve been gardening here for four years and this year’s garden has been the least bountiful. While there are many factors to evaluate, the weird weather has to be considered.





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