Local farm finds ‘abundance, good quality of produce’ at farming season’s height
When Matt Klein took ownership of his father’s farm 11 years ago, he never imagined the challenges and triumphs the family business would face.
Now in its 50th year, Klein’s Farm and Garden Market continues to serve locals living and doing business in and around Elgin.
Klein said business has been flourishing on his farm this summer.
“We’ve had very good production, very good quality,” he said. “I attribute that to the weather. The warm temperatures and the moisture really made for rapid plant development.”
At the peak of farming season, a number of crops are ready for harvesting and being prepared for sale at Klein’s Farm and Garden Market, including sweet corn, squash, melon, peppers and more.
Klein said of the crops yielding at an accelerated pace this year is sweet corn.
“We have to plant in many different successions,” he said. “We have to plant essentially everyday from April to July in order to get good products.”
Much like other competing businesses located in Kane County, Klein’s Farm has adjusted to changing weather conditions over the years.
Klein said this summer has been particularly dryer and wetter than normal.
“The biggest problem I’ve seen anytime you have this high of heat and moisture is you have molding,” he said. “It mostly causes different plant diseases and almost makes the plants rotten.”
Klein said if it were a little dryer, he wouldn’t have any problems with disease needing to be addressed.
“At least when it’s dry you can do some irrigation,” he said. “You have a little more control when it’s dry.”
Klein noting the complexities of farming and nature’s unpredictability, said a lot of moving parts play a factor in the way the farming season has taken its course. The extent to which weather conditions have changed over the years is unclear, he said.
Mike Kenyon, a managing partner for Kenyon Brother Farms, said he’s noted that changing weather conditions in the Chicagoland area go back many years, perhaps even decades.
“There’s higher humidity,” he said. “Part of the thinking is corn needs a lot more water and breeds a lot faster. These hybrids they do such a better job of growing. When it breeds, that adds humidity to the air.”
In comparing rain from this summer to year’s past, Kenyon explained that last May, “it seems like the ground never got dry, it would rain enough to make the ground really wet.”
Kenyon said the way crops are engineered today allows the better characteristics to make them stronger. Plants now require less water than years ago, he said.
Ideally, plants need three-quarters of an inch of rain each day, according to Kenyon. In order for crops to yield, the temperature throughout the day must remain between 50 and 96 degrees to allow photosynthesis to occur.
Klein said this summer’s heat could serve as a good indicator that farming season will end sooner this year.
Klein noted that another upside to farming this year has been insect control, and said it helps knowing that he’s not seen any bugs that aren’t native to the land.
“We’re keeping an eye out for a stink bug that came in from a different country,” he said. “…We keep track of that.”
Klein said the biggest takeaway from farming this summer is seeing community support shown for his business and the fresh food produced.
Klein explained that it’s important ‘keeping the economy in your community.’”
“It’s going to create less of a carbon footprint,” he said. “A lot of things come from California, so a lot of trucks come through and you eliminate that by buying local.”