dimanche 15 mai 2016

78- Bad weather -9- Rain


The bad weather one more time? You will think that I constantly complain.
But if you remember, in my last post, I concluded by saying that the accumulation of climatic anomalies made 2016 an exceptional year.
I confirm that again.

A Spanish proverb says "Nunca llueve a gusto de todos" which means "It never rains to taste of everyone."
The saying can be used in an abstract sense. But in agriculture, it's a truth in the most concrete sense.

The rain can fill the soil with water that will be beneficial to crops and plants in general, it can trigger seed germination, if abundant, it fills surface water supplies (lakes, dams and marshes) and underground (groundwater), it is essential to life, so by itself, it is beneficial.
It also allows non-irrigated crops to produce more and better, and even, as it may be the case here, in Andalusia, just to survive.
Here, a semi-desert region that thrives on many artificial reserves, the very dry winter had seriously reduced the water stock. This rainfall event, unusual for this time of the year, was sufficient to store almost a year of water stock.

However, depending on the circumstances, rain can turn into a real problem. I am not speaking of ruined holidays, or problems of the pilgrimage of El Rocío, in the marshes of Doñana, at the mouth of the Guadalquivir river.

I am still talking about agriculture.
We obviously think in flooding.
For example, in cereals about to be harvested, the damage can be very serious and greatly reduce the harvest.
On potatoes, sensitivity to certain fungi such as mildew can cause devastating damage.
In my case, this is the harvest of peaches and nectarines that suffers rain.

We are emerging from a rainfall period, totally abnormal here for a month in May.
In 10 days, we cumulate over 150 mm of rain, the center of our time maximum harvest. This amount represents a record, at least for the last 50 years, both in the amount and in the duration of the episode.
A real joy. Pouring rain every day, and problems to no end.
-       Wet fruits harvested in the rain, in the mud,
-       Sugar levels falling by 2 points or more, because of the rain, the lack of light (one more time) and the sharp drop in temperatures,
-       Development of rot in the orchard, but also and especially in destination, with commercial disputes that it causes,

-       Loss of firmness out of control, the water drop spot (see my post on this subject https://culturagriculture.blogspot.com.es/2014/05/19-bad-weather-2-water-drop.html), huge increase in non-marketable fruit, and obligation to lay in the orchard not to saturate the recycling circuits with fruits, almost impossible to keep.

Because one day or two days in a row of rain during harvest is usual. But ten, it becomes unmanageable.
And think we are doing great efforts to try to reduce food waste!!!

And I'm not complaining too much. At least we escaped narrowly from hail, which was not the case with all our neighbors, and some have been hit several times this year.

I want to thank the staff of harvest, and tell him my admiration. He endured really difficult conditions, daily for 10 days without complaining, and making a work of great quality, given the circumstances.
Almost nobody missed (I'm talking about more than 600 people), except for some usual moaners.
In short, thanks to their efforts, we could harvest almost normally.

I specify you if you ignore it, that peach (and nectarine) is a fruit that can't wait. When its point of optimum maturity is reached, it is imperative to pick it immediately, otherwise it is lost.
Most varieties of apples, plums, and citrus for example, may wait a few days if conditions are too bad. Peach not, like strawberry or cherry, for example.

We just leave this rainfall event. The question is how plants and fruits will react to the change of weather, especially if the heat comes back brutally. Soils are saturated with water and plants will need some time to evacuate it. The waterlogging risk.
We could be faced with stone break problems, with accelerated ripening, with firmness of the flesh problems, with quick rots, with epidermal slots.
In short, the consequences could worsen.

Coming days will be crucial.

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