It has been a rough week at the farm.
We were wrapping up CSA Harvest on Tuesday evening when Mike told me I should look outside. His tone sent up my alarms and I popped my head out the back door of our pack shed to see a dark thundercloud and wall of water heading our way. I finished packing up the cherry tomatoes then ran outside to close up the greenhouses. As I was rolling down the last greenhouse side the wind picked up and two minutes later raindrops began to fall.
Pounding rain and hail fell at the farm for 2.5+ hours and we estimate roughly 2 inches of moisture fell during that time. 2 inches! It was considerably more moisture than our drought ridden landscape could handle. Beautiful dark clouds, incredible lightning, powerful rain… we watched in awe as this incredible storm rolled through the valley.
Once the rain lightened up a bit we did a lap around the fields right before dark to assess things. It's pretty impressive how much damage a thunderstorm can do to beautiful leafy greens in a short amount of time. Leaves were shredded, cover crop lodged (fell over), areas were flooded and washed out, and the farm was soaked top to bottom.
In the days that followed, we spent time stripping the many damaged leaves off crops like kale, chard, collards and clearing beds like salad mix, cilantro, dill and arugula that were damaged but will grow back. Other crops, such as head lettuce were completely shredded and trashed.
Due to the hail damage we have decided to pause CSA Harvests for a week to let everything in the field rebound. This means CSA Week #9 is rescheduled for Wednesday, August 1st for Telluride and Thursday, August 2nd for Mancos.
On top of the hail damage... we suddenly have a False Chinch Bug infestation at the farm. These are small, fast moving, brown bugs that we noticed at the farm on Wednesday. Millions of them. On Friday morning we began to notice they were damaging a few crops, such as arugula, radish, turnip and mustard greens. Bah!
Mike was able to chat with one of the top entomologists with Colorado State University. She informed us that cases like this are rare and only happen maybe every 20 years or so, and it's most likely due to the drought. There have been several other reports of large hatches of these bugs in Western Colorado this Summer. The hot and dry conditions created the perfect environment for the False Chinch Bugs to get out of control, lay a bunch of eggs and as soon as we got some rain they decided it was go time. The bugs feed by sucking sap (the life) out of plants, they favor mustards but will also feed on many other crops. There isn't much we can do but observe and wait. Supposedly the False Chinch Bugs will eat and grow for 7-10 days, develop wings and fly off and no longer be of our concern. The unknown is what all will they damage in the next 10 days? We are hoping the damage is limited to the tender brassica crops (fingers crossed!) but we'll just have to wait and see.
A BIG THANK YOU to our CSA Members for supporting us and our farm this season. We entered the 2018 growing season knowing it was going to be a challenging one and sure enough... it's shaping up to be just that and then some. We will continue to do our very best to bring you delicious produce, grown with love (+sweat and tears) right here on the beautiful piece of land. We'll be here regrouping a bit this week, but mostly weeding crops and prepping beds to seed new rounds of greens and to transplant the final round of lettuces, kale, bok choy, chard, etc. We're are keeping a positive attitude and reminding ourselves that Mother Nature has a lot to teach us, and as farmers, we will always be learning. And sometimes, that learning will be about bugs that are taking down crops. Stinkers!
I think it’s going to be an interesting week around here, we’ll will keep you posted on the bug infestation. And I should probably add, the False Chinch Bugs are not just outside. They’re all through our house and one ran across my keyboard last night as I was sending out an email/update to our CSA Members. Deep breathe.