As an orchardist, I pay close attention to the local weather. This concern for what’s happening with the weather is a daily preoccupation for all farmers.
Besides listening to the daily weather reports on the radio, I also keep a close eye on the shape of the clouds and my barometer. These are classic weather predictors for what the weather will be like the next day. And believe it our not, the way birds and insects fly are also predictors of the weather.
I am especially concerned about the weather in the Spring and Fall seasons. Late frosts in the Spring can kill tender fruit blossoms, and excessive rain in the Fall can impact harvests. Fortunately, in my microclimate in the foothills of the Alleghany Mountains, I get adequate rainfall throughout the summer growing season.
Our microclimate is affected in large part by geography. We are surrounded by mountains, however the farm is in its own little valley. Our orchards are 1200 feet above sea level and the ridges that flank either side of the orchards rise-up to 1300 feet. This creates unique air-flow patterns and mini-weather conditions. These geographic features on our valley farm affect our microclimate. On any given day we can be warmer or cooler, more windy or calmer, than the surrounding region.
I’ve been keeping a careful eye on the weather on our farm for over twenty years. And the weather patterns have been steadily changing and getting more unpredictable. For example, it is getting slightly warmer on average. And the seasons have shifted by a few weeks over that time. It’s getting a little harder to know what the weather will be like from day to day.
Well, I’ll probably keep a close eye on the weather for as long as I farm. But in the end, the weather is what it is.