Lakeview Farms

January 4, 2014, 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 Caribbean after the strawberries are mulched in early December and come back to St. Louis in April. The serious work of planning for next year, tax reporting, 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. The computer work in early 2014 will focus on making sure that our web site can be easily viewed in the smart phone web browsers that everyone seems to be using now.

Other PYO Farms and Farmers Market Listings on our Web Site

If you frequent local Farmers Markets or looking for another U-Pick farm that grows other crops (like pumpkins, peaches, blackberries, apples.....) you may find the listings in our web site useful -- we even have a list of other strawberry farms ! Your comments or experiences with any these listings would be useful to share with others so I'll consider adding a customer comment section to each listing if there is enough interest from you. Installing Bird Netting pays off (but it wasn't easy) Those of you who picked Black Raspberries in 2013 probably noticed that the availability of Black Raspberries at Lakeview Farms was greatly improved over our first harvest in 2012 when the "early-birds got the berry". While the netting was successful overall, it proved to be a more involved process than I had expected and was complicated by significant wind damage to the netting itself only a week after it was installed. While only a few birds were able to enter the netting structure, the local rabbit population seemed intent on getting in close to the ground by chewing holes in the netting in several spots. Why the rabbits? -- I'm not quite sure since the rabbits didn't seem to damage the plants or the fruit. In any event, major repair and baiting work was required to eliminate the totally unexpected rabbit and wind problem.

Strawberries--The crop looks great for the 2014 harvest

While our supply of strawberries for 2013 at the start of the season looked excellent, rainy weather during the peak strawberry harvest period caused some loss of berries and sales ended up being equal to last year. For the 2014 harvest we will be harvesting about 90% Cabot and 10% L'Amour and continuing to pick in just our lower level fields. The problems with anthracnose crown rot seemed to decline in 2013 as we were able to: 1) shift planting to the lower level fields that have not grown strawberries for 6 to 10 years, source our new plants from Massachusetts and not Michigan, 3) use a fungicide root dip prior to planting. We'll probably plant mostly Cabot in 2014 but try a few new Flavorfest as we keep trying to find that Wow!! tasting variety.

Raspberry crop prospects for June 2014 harvest are uncertain

I am concerned that the -10F lows forecast for Sunday, Jan 6, and Monday Jan 7 could cause some injury to the upper raspberry canes. Sky radiation effects(Low winds, clear skies, and snow on the ground) could make the real cane temperature several degrees cooler -- we won't really know for sure how much damage we have until late April when most of the live canes will/should have budded out. Crown Gall continues to sap plant vigor on our older Prelude red raspberry and will require replanting two rows in early 2014. The newer Prelude planting continues to perform quite well for both early and late season sales --- in fact I wish that Prelude would not produce so prolifically in the late season (August-October) since this is the time pests like Spotted Wind Drosophila, spider mites, leaf spot ... are most troublesome. With the extra row of Fall Gold & Honey Queen planted in 2013, we should have an much better supply of yellow raspberries for 2014 picking.

Giant Bushel Gourds prospects look bleak for 2014

While most of the 2013 gourd crop is drying and looks good, almost all of the Giant Bushel gourds were damaged by what I would consider a normal frost for mid October. This is the third consecutive year of crop failure on this particular gourd for one reason or another--I'll take this as a "sign from above" that perhaps we should not be trying to grow it.