August 15, 2022 By Vaseline

Watching the weather and waiting for peaches – Agweek

“When can we get some peaches?” asked one of my kids a few weeks ago.

I remember replying that fresh peaches should be coming from the south soon. Around mid to late July we usually start buying boxes of peaches here and there. We eat them plain, or with cream and sugar, or baked in cakes.

I rarely buy peaches out of season because the prices and taste are better this time of year. The few extra weeks of waiting to see big clumps of sweet, juicy peaches seemed too long to the kids.

But I was wondering what delayed the deliveries. A quick look online revealed problems with drought in Texas, drought followed by heavy rain in Arkansas, unprecedented rain in parts of California, late frosts in Virginia, hail in Oklahoma, and ongoing problems with warmer winters keeping trees from dormant in Georgia .

My little foray into peach research was a good reminder for me of how dependent we are on the weather and shipping and far flung places for the foods we expect.

Much of our diet comes from locally grown food as we raise meat and potatoes and pasta are staples. Despite this, for most of the year we rely on fruits and vegetables that are grown far from the prairies. Our garden helps in late summer, but for the most part our produce comes from farmers in other parts of the country or the world.

I grew up on a farm and then married a farmer. I have a lot of experience watching the weather and wondering how it would affect our lives. Hailstorms destroy crops, snowstorms blanket livestock, and droughts stunt growth. Too wet weather damages the quality; so too dry weather.

We watch the prediction, wanting to know what’s going to happen right where we are, without thinking nearly as much about what’s happening in far off places that bring us things like peaches and apples. We focus on how policymakers are helping our farmers and ranchers, often without giving as much thought to how they are helping farmers who are far from us and who grow crops unlike those in our vast fields.

Now more than ever we can see how connected we are to farming, not just in the US but around the world. The war in Ukraine has made our already volatile markets even more volatile and we are realizing again, as we did a few years ago when the COVID-19 pandemic began, how fragile our food system really is.

I’m thankful for the diverse foods we have access to here on the northern plains – things like oranges and peaches that would never grow here, as well as produce that arises at times when we’re immersed in a frozen state.

We just got our box of peaches. They seem to be pretty good when they’re fully matured. I hope that the farmers who tended the trees and picked the fruit have a good season and a good harvest. Just as they depend on our part of the world for certain foods, we need these farmers to stay in business so we can get our peaches in the summer.

No matter where you are or what type of farming you are involved in, it’s not easy. I’m glad I was reminded that we are not the center of the farming world, just a part of it.

Jenny Schlecht is an editor at Agweek. She lives with her husband and two daughters on a farm and ranch in Medina, North Dakota. She can be reached at [email protected] or 701-595-0425.