We thought it was worth mentioning that this past July was the hottest month on record in the United States, surpassing the previous record hottest month set in July 1936. That year was during the middle of the very dry and hot Dust Bowl era. Put another way, July 2012 stands as not only the hottest July on record in the lower 48 United States in more than 117 years of record keeping, but also the hottest of any month on record in that time span- the hottest of more than 1,400 months that we’ve gone through since 1895!!
For the year 2012, July wasn’t really an anomaly, either. Taken together, the first seven months of the year have been, on average, the warmest January-to-July period on record in the contiguous U.S. states.
As if the heat weren’t enough of a challenge, more than half of our country was in a state of significant drought at the end of last month. According to the July 31, 2012, U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), 62.9 percent of the U.S. was experiencing moderate to exceptional drought at the end of July.
So, what does this all mean for us? Many crops came in several weeks ahead of schedule. These crops included melons, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and more. These crops may finish up a bit early as a result. Other crops suffered during the drought in July and became stressed- our onion yields will be lower than usual because we just could not keep up with all the irrigation that needed to happen during that time. For the first time this season, we had an entire seeding of carrots (we are talking about one million or so seeds!) that failed to germinate due to the dry soil conditions. We had to scramble and find another spot and reseed the entire planting of carrots- thankfully that planting has germinated well and now look great. Farming is all about adapting to changing conditions as they come. Our weather pattern here in the Northeast seems to have shifted, and with it so have our challenges…..the farm crew sloshed through a few harvest mornings in torrential downpours. We stopped thinking about revamping our entire irrigation system and shifted to trying to cope with too much water at once…..