This year, late July will see much of Iowa’s corn crop pollinate and silk. Shortly after, the weather in early August will determine the outcome of this year’s soybean production.
But late July and early August is also the beginning of apple season, and according to one apple grower in central Iowa, the recent dry spell that raised concerns on corn and soybean production may actually be beneficial for him.
Bryan Etchen, above, owns and operates Iowa Orchard on Meredith Drive in Urbandale. He says warmer weather reduces disease pressure, which was a welcome change from the cold, wet spring. Even so, almost anything is better than last year’s conditions, when an April cold snap killed off early apple blooms and with them, a full 90% of Iowa Orchard’s apple crop. Etchen says his business only survived by bringing in apples spared from the cold snap; they were grown at higher elevations in northeast Iowa.
While he expects this year’s apple crop to be, in his words, “massive,” last year’s losses were coupled with construction on Meredith Drive that made customer access difficult. Taken together, Etchen says it was time to consider managing his risk through diversification.
It was economically crushing. So, we had to diversify a little bit, had to bring in a second crop, so we’re looking at a nice strawberry establishment that we planted kind of late because of the rains in May, but we got it in the ground in early June…
So we are hoping that 50,000 strawberry plants come into big production next late May.
Strawberries are a nice balance, because they’re in the opposite side of the season as opposed to apples, so it allows me to concentrate on them quite a bit in that off-season.