Everybody’s big question is “Is this an early spring?” Gardeners are all fired up. Even one of my farmer friends is tempted to plant some peas just to get bragging rights (and he may look pretty clever with his early peas for market if they dont rot in the ground first…) Its interesting as a grower to have gardeners come up to me and ask the question, like I am privy to some fountain of information that they don’t have access to. I like Jake Guest’s response fashioned with a rhetorical question: ” So,what’s an early Spring? Three nights in May with nightime temperatures in the low twenties?” So my response is pretty much tempered: go outside, pickup the sticks off the lawn and rake the dog turds around. Do some pruning and have some fun but dont get your water hot about seeding lettuce this weekend in the garden or come by early to get your plants from the greenhouses. April can be a long month, and I can remember being called back to work as a ski patrolman during that month just when I thought I was going to put my skis away and trade them for the summer tractor.
But the focus on the weather does bring up the question of Global Warming in any weather discussion. Forty nine of the fifty states in the Union had snow this year. Its pretty interesting when you are looking at the nightly news and see that the Dallas airport is closed because of snow. There are many politicos who pander to the assumption that these particular weather events point to the fact that there is NO global warming, otherwise how could there be snow in Shreveport, Louisiana? In our little world of agriculture we first got our first information about global warming from some of our University Extension Educators. They had been attending seminars and reported back to us at trade and educational meetings that Global Warming was not a hoax, the facts showed it to be happening and how it was happening. Verne Grubinger, a Vermont Extension specialist reported to us that there was a general forecast for New England and it was this: Winters would be warmer, summers would be cooler and wetter. He also went further to say the climatologists forecast that the natural habitat for our native sugar maple will, in a century’s time, will move north to Labrador. Plus, storms and fronts that result from changes in weather systems would be much more violent and dramatic. Owtch!
After four years, I am inclined to think Verne missed his call as a meteorologist, because things seem to be bearing out just like he said they would, at least in my world. And we farmers spend a lot of time thinking about the weather and its ramifications. Any of us boomers can remember growing up with longer ski seasons and snowier, colder winters,especially those of us who ski and long for the good old days. Maine just logged either its warmest winter on record, despite the snow in Shreveport. I may not live to see the forest ecosystem change,but we can certainly document the extreme nature of the summer thunderstorms. Ask Steve Wood or Poverty Lane Orchards or Matt Patch of Walahowden Farm about the increasing frequency of hail events. I know we live in constant fear of a hail storm. Ask David Pierson of Pierson Farm what hail can do to a vegetable farm. I went up after an event decimated his home farm and it looked like a battlefield…..greenhouse plastic shredded and the fields looked a standing army had marched through shooting peppers and watermelons with shotguns. The 2nd longest tornado trail on record in the continental US occurred three summers ago in NewHampshire-something like a path of 37 miles,which went right through Peter Van Berkums wildflower nursery in Deerfield and toppled trees, ruined greenhouses and carried off a golf cart. How about wetter summers? The last two summers have broken records as well.
Farmers and growers are now dealing with pests and diseases that were unheard of in our neck of the woods twenty years ago. Leaf hoppers showing up in June. Downy mildew in vine crops. Late blight of tomatoes and potatoes…ok,but in July? Squash vine borer? These were all things that were common in the Mid Atlantic states, and now they are arriving in New England like an unwanted house guest.
Rush Limbaugh told me global warming is a Greenie hoax. Maybe he knows something ,I dunno…… but something weird is going on with the weather…