Most people probably realize that seasonal variations can make a big difference in the yield for a farm. For example, if there is a season-long drought, there will be smaller fruit and potentially lower quality. But the fact is that even the difference of a few hours or days can make a big difference to the bottom line.
In an earlier post, I mentioned the impacts of weather and timing on both thinning and frost damage. It is only now that we’re really able to see the impacts of those weather events on the apple yield for the season. As it turns out, the weather didn’t do us many favors this spring as the apple crop seems to be pretty light, especially for Red Delicious which constitutes a high percentage of our plantings. It looks like the cold weather that occured right before thinning combined with the hot weather just after thinning to really knock back the final “set” of apples on the tree. A couple days variance in either direction for either of those weather events probably would have made a difference.
Timing also impacts us on a longer horizon. This past weekend was Father’s Day, and that is always our signal to plant the pumpkins. Big jack-o-lantern pumpkins have a 110 day horizon to maturity, so if you want nice pumpkins on October 1, you better get them in the ground by mid June (and have them ordered the weeks before that). So we’ve been working really hard to get them in now. But the timing doesn’t end there… because once the pumpkins are planted the weeds over them need to be killed before the pumpkin sprouts, because after the pumpkin is above ground, there are no chemical methods that will kill the weeds without killing the pumpkins. But the timing doesn’t end there… because once the pumpkins are safely “up”, it is a good idea to apply a pre-merge control so that no new weeds come up. All with the goal of raising beautiful pumpkins instead of beautiful weeds.
We also see the impact of timing in markets. We work very hard raising as much as we can ourselves, but the fact is that we don’t have the time or equipment to raise all the vegetables we sell in our market by ourselves, so we buy it locally. It is interesting to see at our local auction how variable the bids can be for similar items across different days. The variance can be huge, and for no seemingly good reason except who happens to show up and what they need (or have) that day.
Which all goes to show that it isn’t enough to just do the right thing in this business… you have to do the right thing at exactly the right time.