The Impacts of Extreme Heat and Rainfall

The Impacts of Extreme Heat and Rainfall

Jan 26, 2024

Well it has certainly been an interesting start to this year! 😱
Contrary to the long term forecasts, January was a wild ride of lots of rain and heatwaves which has meant some updates to supply and quality of organic produce. These last few weeks we experienced upwards of 35 degrees with such high humidity it felt like 40 degrees plus, and then torrential rain in excess of over 100m in an hour! 

We had thought we were in for a dry and hot summer, but the rain has taken us and many other growers by surprise. 
    Over the last few weeks especially you've probably noticed our seasonal range has lessened, and some items are either intermittent in supply, or the quality has meant they are not lasting as long as usual. 

    🍋 You'll notice this with Lemons - these are coming to us from down south where thankfully it is a bit cooler, but it's still not peak season and the quality, availability and price has reflected this.

    I love lemons just as much as the rest of you, and it's how I start my day! But during times like this I use it as an opportunity to develop compassion and patience for mother nature. Over the last few weeks our lemons have been very ugly, quite green, and not as juicy as usual. So I either use more lemon each morning, or find other ways to adjust my daily routines to fit in around this seasonal adjustment. Yes it's inconvenient, but short lived and I'm always amazed at how much produce is really available for so long through the year anyway. 

    🥒 Another one which should be in full abundant supply but isn't is Lebanese Cucumbers! Last year we were growing so many cucumbers on our farm we literally couldn't keep up with harvesting and then selling them.
    We didn't grow them this season because we were worried about water supply and the heat and had to prioritise other crops. It seems like many other farmers were the same. So now when we should be getting lots of yummy cucumbers, we aren't :(

    Thankfully our friends down south have a supply of Green Cucumbers (a bit different to the Lebanese ones but still tasty) but this is intermittent at best, priced accordingly, and susceptible to storage issues due to the heat. I'd suggest storing them in a paper towel and then loose in a bag in your crisper. This prevents them from losing moisture and shrivelling up. 

    🍉 Our watermelon was all set to be a bumper crop this year. Fruit set was better than average and all taste tests were yummy. Then over xmas the farm received over 500mm of much needed rain, that came at the worst possible time for the melons. The water damage was extreme and we lost three quarters of our crop. 

    Those that we did salvage didn't last as long as usual, so of course it's disappointing for all! 

    The good news is we do have some more melons due to harvest soon, so we are hopeful for a good supply of tasty melons again in the next few weeks. 

    Other items you may notice as heat or weather affected are our root veg - Carrots, Potatoes and Sweet Potato. These are often spared the impacts of the damaging heat however are not spared the impacts of ongoing heavy rains. Sometimes this means they are susceptible to soggy and damaged ends or are harvested wet and therefore the shelf life won't be as long :(

    Alternatively you might even find they come to you with a lot of extra mud attached! Its good to note that we don't wash potatoes as this lessens their shelf life, AND we believe that its good for you to get organic nutrient microbe dense mud on your skin. 

    Storage Tips

    Apples & Citrus
    Pleaseeeee make sure you store fruit in the fridge, especially apples and citrus. This is a year round principle.

    The expected temperature of a fruit bowl is closer to 20 degrees not the current 32 degrees. All fruit and vegetables will break down faster in this heat.
    These products are often stored at the farm in cool temps, then transported in refrigerated trucks.

    Once they come out of the fridge they will go brown or begin to mould.
    We live in a super warm climate with high humidity so for best flavour and shelf life --> pop them in the fridge :) 

    Other tips include ensuring your produce is put away into the fridge as soon as you possibly can, wrapped or bagged or put into a container where possible. 

    Why is organic produce affected more than conventional produce? 

    Organic produce is often more susceptible to weather impacts like significant rain or heat for a few reasons:
    1. the seeds are non GMO - they are not engineered to be as resilient as their GMO conventional counterparts
    2. organic produce is not sprayed with chemicals to protect it from sunburn, disease, pests which the humid hot climate exacerbates.
    3. it's often grown in greenhouses or tunnels which means it has its own man made environment created for "perfect" growing conditions and no impact from the weather 
    4. after it's harvested, organic produce is not sprayed with preservatives or post harvest chemicals to prolong its shelf life and aesthetics
    I mean, how is it that when you go to the supermarket everything typically looks perfect? Well except for their "ugly bunch", but lets not get started on that! 
    It's because they've spent the last 50 plus years engineering food to look that way. Rather than educating consumers on why it really doesn't matter if a food looks different, or showing people how to make the most of abundance through fermenting and preserving food, we have been conditioned to believe food should be perfect looking, and should last in the fruit bowl on the bench for 2-3 weeks. 

    The irony is, when organic produce is peak season, it actually will last 2-3 weeks if stored correctly. I just finished the last of our Basil this week harvested off the farm 3 weeks ago. It was stored in a glass jar on the bench near the sink. 

    🧑‍🌾  🧑‍🌾  🧑‍🌾 

    Finally, we just want to say thank you for supporting local farmers, at times like this we need your support and so appreciate you letting us know if something received hasn't been great, so we can replace this for you next order.