With some days this month topping 70 degrees, it’s not feeling particularly seasonable. But the mild weather is helping local farmers extend their season.
Derek McGeehan of Anchor Run CSA in Bucks County, for instance, plans to keep putting out produce shares into January, if not February.
“Normally they would have been killed by a hard freeze by now, but we still have lots of cabbages, kale and collards unprotected,” he said. “This year is unprecedented.”
The Snipes farm in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, is also benefiting from an unusual surplus of crops.
Smaller urban farms and individual growers also stand to gain.
“Everything’s really still bountiful and there’s just a lot more production for fall crops,” said Adam Hill, the City Harvest Manager with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
That’s great for soup kitchens that are getting more donations of nutritious leafy kale and spinach, Hill added. City growers, whose cabbages often fail to mature, have more of a chance this year, too.
But it’s not all good news. With fewer cold days to kill insects, those at Anchor Run and Snipes expect to struggle more with pests in the spring. And Rick Van Vranken of Rutgers’ Cooperative Extension in Atlantic County, New Jersey, said fruit growers would prefer more typical temperatures.
“They really need cold weather to make their crops go dormant and stay dormant,” he said. “If [fruits] start blossoming and then we get a cold snap, then we have a much lighter crop.”
Van Vranken said he had even heard of some strawberries blooming within the last few weeks.