Late to ripen, if at all
If you didn’t notice that the summer of 2011 was a cool one, a visit to the farmers market will tell you just how cool it was. The most obvious consequence of the weather has been the reluctance of many crops to ripen. For instance, persimmons, usually available in late September, only began to appear in stores in mid-October. Chestnuts, too, are about 10 days behind schedule, according to Isleton farmer Harvey Correia, who grows many fruits—including bananas and white sapotes—on his colorful little farm. He says that his figs have lagged since the spring. In fact, his first-crop figs, which usually have ripened by early July, remained on the branch in August as the second crop of figs began ripening—a very rare phenomenon.
Pomegranates, meanwhile, are struggling. Crop size is down by more than half on Correia’s farm, where more than 50 varieties grow, and local fruit—already weeks late—is still lacking in sugar. Whether many varieties will ripen at all this fall remains to be seen.
In the vineyards, 2011 spared wine grapes the hot-cold weather ride of 2010, which damaged grapes in many places. But the low summer temperatures have subdued ripening, and winemakers are now reeling in a harvest of low-sugar grapes that will render interesting if lower-than-usual-alcohol wines. The takeaway: If all this makes you want to drown your sorrows, you’d better have a second glass.