Fall crops may come early

Posted on: 9:15 pm, August 14, 2012, by , updated on: 10:19pm, August 14, 2012

Drought conditions have already pushed corn prices to record highs. The impact on your favorite fall crops, though, may be less severe.

Mild weather in February and March has meant many crops are ready early, said Stephen Andrews of Happy Hollow U-Pick  in East Moline, Illinois.

“It has tripped it’s trigger for an earlier crop yield on things,” said Andrews.

That means local farmers are in the prime of their fall harvest season. And despite the drought, there’s plenty for customers to pick as well.

“I think they thought we were dead… it was dry, no sense in coming,” said Andrews.

Instead, Andrews said there’s watermelon and even winter squash just days away on his farm. There’s also no need to panic about another fall favorite. At Happy Hollow, some early varieties of pie pumpkins are already setting.

“Pumpkins are around the corner here, in the last week of September…. I’ll be ninety percent capacity for pie pumpkins and the over-40-pound class of pumpkins,” said Andrews.

There won’t be an overabundance of mid-sized pumpkins, though, thanks to that June heat. Dry weather proved tough for germination but good for bugs. So, as with many of Andrews’ crops, it was drip irrigation that saved the day.

“It takes a lot more time and effort to manage water, rather than waiting for Mother Nature once a week. Pumping electricity, it becomes almost liquid gold,” said Andrews.    

That water, though, has kept Andrews on schedule and in business.

“Things are looking great, but it’s taken a lot more effort,” said Andrews.