As the dog days of summer come to an end and fall rolls in, farmers in Homer Glen are noting more rain, humidity and issues with area construction.
Lexie Miller, a co-owner at Pick. At Garden Patch Farms, said a number of moving parts are impacting productivity at the local farm.
“This summer has been definitely slow I think because it has been so hot,” Miller said. “We’ve also had a ton of rain, so a lot of people don’t want to go picking in the rain. It’s very, very hard to keep up with the weeds when there is as much rain as there is. It doesn’t help the crops as far as pests and all that as far as not spraying.”
The family-owned farm, which is located on 159th Street, has been in business nearly 100 years. Miller said they’ve noted all kinds of different weather during the summer months over the years, but this summer has been particularly wet and humid.
“If we had a lot less humidity, I think it would help, and I would say 10 degrees cooler,” she said. “I do know the last 10 days it’s been 95 percent humidity.”
Miller noted that they’ve seen a decrease in crop yield due to the weeds and said not getting out in the fields when there’s a lot of rain is an issue.
Co-owner Tony Ndoca said in comparing the amount of rainfall to years past, a challenge is created for the farm that makes doing business less than ideal.
“In years past, when I was a kid and I’m 35, as a kid we would get a good half inch every four, five, six, seven days,” he said. “ It was a good amount of water. Now, in some cases we’re getting too much rain at once. In one day, we’re getting three inches.”
Ndoca added that with that amount of rain, it makes it difficult to farm and pull out weeds.
Miller said the problem is that crop yield is affected when there’s a lot of rain and said it Is hard to determine what exact loss in crop yield they’ll see at the end of the fall season.
“When you have this much rain, you can’t keep up with the weeds,” she said. “Produce loses the nutrients to the weeds, so really they’re not reaching full growth.”
Ndoca said the effort to get rid of insects serves as an upside for the farm this summer.
“Bug pressure is strong,” he said. “ Usually, when you get a lot of hot, dry weather, we tend to spray organic sprays if we can. When we get insect pressure, unfortunately we have to spray them.”
Ndoca also said it has been positive knowing they’ve not spotted any insects that aren’t native to the land.
“I have read some trade articles about different bugs,” he said. “Michigan is starting to make their way this way. I haven’t seen anything yet.”
Ndoca said traffic at the farm has been negatively impacted and said it doesn’t help having construction along 159th Street. The hope is that things will pickup, he said.
During this time of year, a number of different fruits and vegetables are ready for harvest through Pick. At Garden Patch Farms, including egg plant, kale, tomatoes and peppers.
Miller said she thinks it’s important that people realize the benefit to shopping at their local farms and see value in the return of money to the local economy
“I think a lot of people don’t really know what they’re buying at a grocery store,” she said. “It’s not always coming from a farm nearby. Usually, it’s coming from Colombia or Chile or California or whatever they consider to be close. I think it’s super important to support local businesses.”