Lakeview Farms

January 11, 2010 Newsletter

This January newsletter is just to keep you up-to-date with what is going on at Lakeview farms.  Contrary to what some people believe, we don't head down to Florida after the strawberries are mulched in early December and come back to St. Louis in May.  The serious work of planning for next year,  updating postal and email address, ordering supplies/plants/seeds, plus ensuring that our web site remains secure and up-to-date seems to take up most of the cold, wintery days of December, January, and February

Nagging Farmer Karl pays off
Jewel Black Raspberry Those of you who have been nagging me to plant Black Raspberries will be happy to hear that we are planting limited quantities this spring.  Black Raspberries grow wild in Missouri but are extremely difficult to locate and almost never sold in St. Louis area stores.  It does not appear that Centennial Farms will open their Black Raspberry patch to U-Pick in the foreseeable future.   The first harvest of Black Raspberries at Lakeview Farms, unfortunately,  will not occur until June 2012.

According to Ohio State University, Black Raspberries contain very high levels of antioxidants ( high oxygen radical absorption capabilities).
Oxygen free radicals can damage DNA, cause cellular change, oxidize LDL cholesterol, and cause premature mental aging.  Consuming foods high in antioxidants helps prevent cancer, heart disease, stroke, and possibly Alzheimer's Disease.

While there is considerable disagreement among the scientific community regarding whether the presence of natural antioxidants in red wine can have a positive medical impact in spite of their alcohol content, see the "French Paradox" discussion in Wikipedia,  Black Raspberries do not "carry" any negative baggage like alcohol.

Our Farm Phone is seasonally disconnected
Since we have exited the pumpkin business our farm phone number (636-978-8830) will be operational only from early April to early July.  If you need to contact me in the meantime,  use the email address below or call my cell phone number (636-387-2695).

Strawberries--Problems beneath the surface
While our June harvest of strawberries overall went well and berry quality was fine, the early warm and rainy weather aggravated a troublesome root rot problem that has "lurked below the surface" for the last few years but got significantly worse in 2010.Plant wilt due to crown rot

Crown Rot (Colletotrichum)is normally a serious problem of strawberries in only mild climate locations like Florida, California, and the coastal areas of the southeastern US but can apparently be a issue in more northern states during excessive warm (optimum is 80 to 90F), rainy weather.  Crown Rot is typically introduced into a planting by infected nursery stock.  We last experienced a serious episode of Crown Rot in the mid 1980's after purchasing plants from an Arkansas nursery -- the variety was Scott which is known to be particularly susceptible.  Up-to-now the conventional wisdom was that purchasing plants from a "northern" nursery would prevent this problem from occurring but since our plant source was Michigan, this is obviously no guarantee!  Once a plant is infected, there is little chemical control can do other than perhaps limit the spread to non infected plants.  Normally, when a mother plant is infected (wilt symptoms) the fungus appears to be transmitted to even rooted daughter plants which eventually wilt and die.   While some other forms of Crown Rot attack the strawberry fruit itself, Crown rot has no direct effect on the fruit (or people, I might add).  Obviously, if a plant wilts or dies during fruiting, this will cause smaller fruit that are more prone to sunburn.

For 2011 we will evaluate Cabot from a more northerly source( Massachusetts ) and look at some of the newer varieties that have been introduced these last few years.  Since we have a large acreage of fallow ground that had been dedicated to pumpkin production in the past, we are in much better shape now to try out alternatives to Cabot.  Two of the varieties that look most promising (Wendy & Galetta) are very early fruiting--perhaps as much a 10 days earlier than Cabot.  Both of these newer varieties will have a smaller berry size than Cabot and first be  harvested in May 2012. 

What Happened to the Late Season Raspberries in 2010 ?
For some unknown reason plant vigor on new Prelude and Nova canes (which are what produce fall berries) was very low and the quality and quantity berries was sufficiently low that I did not feel opening our fields to customers would be wise.  I suspect that we allowed too many canes to fruit in the record June harvest.  These excess fruiting canes could have had a big negative impact new cane growth.   We are doubling our acreage of Prelude in 2011 so you can expect a bumper crop of late season berries in the September-October period--assuming the weather permits planting early this Spring.

Dried Gourd Availability looks good
While the 2010 crop of gourds will not be dry until late spring, we still have a good selection of dried gourds available for sale.  Be sure to call me on my cell phone before you come just to make sure that I plan to be at the farm when you come.