Weather Extremes Seem to be the New Norm?

2021 has been full of extremes on our farm. The situation was similar for much of the world.

It’s definitely concerning. The hottest, the coldest, the driest, the wettest. Even within small pockets there were micro weather extremes.

Our farm experienced extreme rainfall in July, upwards of 25”. The longest no-rain stretch for us in July was 3.5 days. August was almost as wet. Our clay loam soil can’t handle that kind of water. Our dahlia field suffered. It isn’t producing blooms at all. At this point, I’m hoping to salvage the tubers. We have a one-acre field and by early September I had picked one stem. Luckily the zinnia have loved the weather conditions so we are able to use zinnia in place of dahlia.

The western part of Canada, the Pacific Northwest, and Midwest experienced extreme drought. I heard of farms that lost large percentage of their annual flowers because they burned up and literally baked in the field. Wildfires threatened farms and families—I wish I could have sent them some of our water.

Extreme heat waves landed on so many parts of the continent this summer, including record-breaking temperatures and number of days over a certain temp. I hope everyone took care while working in the heat. We really tried to work in the cooler parts of the day but there are times that we just had to work. Our coolers ran nonstop trying to keep the flowers cool. We had multiple successions of sunflowers bloom at the same time causing both an abundance and a scarcity of sunflower supply.

On a plus, we had an awesome crop of cool flowers this spring. Larkspur, bachelor buttons, and nigella overwintered in the field. This was a first for us here in southwest Ontario, zone 6a. Of course, at the moment we have not been able to plant cool flowers yet because the ground is still wet.

We also had eucalyptus overwinter for the first time. It has been amazing. I can’t believe the vigor and growth on the eucalyptus TREES. This was a blessing because all of our eucalyptus plug orders were cancelled this spring.

I’m not sure how to plan for the future other than to plan that there will be extreme weather. But the best trait a farmer can have is the “stick to it” trait. I’m still planning next year. Ready for a new year and a new growing season. The slate gets wiped clean each year and always thinking “Next year will be a great year.”

Erin McMullen

Harris Flower Farm

Contact her at [email protected]