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From the Fields: Jason Maloney
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From the Fields | Jason Maloney

From the Fields: Jason Maloney

Dry weather continues in July along Wisconsin’s Lake Superior shore. The year 2021 had little snow and thus far little rain. As the third week in July ended, less than half an inch of rain had fallen during the month in most areas of far-northern Wisconsin. Drought continued to creep along the lakeshore. The extended forecast indicated more hot and dry weather to come.

Crops on many fields were showing signs of stress. Folks were wondering how short later hay crops may be. Some with pasture-fed-meat operations were wondering how long pasture would hold out without considerable rain. Some grain crops that started out well are now in need of moisture.

Berry farms near Chequamegon Bay had a visit from Jack Frost in late May. Many farms reported major damage to the strawberry crop, though pick your own berries were available through the middle of July. Other berries, especially raspberries, are abundant. Blueberries, gooseberries and black raspberries are also available. Orchards are open with sweet cherries and tart cherries available. The apple crop is looking good in many orchards. Visit bayfield.org/what-to-do/orchards-berry-farms/orchard-reports for more information on the Bayfield Fruit Loop.

Foragers found few mushrooms due to dry conditions. Wild berries have been scarce. Thimbleberry and blackberry plants have many green berries that without rain are likely to dry before they ripen. Forest plants are showing stress, with many yellow leaves evident in forest undergrowth due to dryness. Water levels in Lake Superior continue to drop.

American kestrels are fledging as are green herons. Bald eaglets are preparing to step off the nest to soar over Lake Superior.

There have been red-flag fire warnings in northern Wisconsin. Several-hundred wildfires have been reported in Wisconsin so far this year. Smoke and haze from wildfires in both the United States and Canada have caused a pervasive haze, detectable smoke and poor air quality many days in July along the Lake Superior shore.

Farm stores and farm markets are open and business is brisk, though not as frantic as summer 2020. Community-supported-agriculture subscriptions continue in full swing. There’s an abundant supply of local pasture-fed meat and eggs. Fresh local greens and vegetables of many varieties are available. There’s a good supply of local fiber products. Local dairy products including milk, ice cream and sheep-milk cheese are available – as are locally made beer, mead, hard cider, wine and distilled spirits. Honey, syrup and preserves continue to tempt visitors. Visit www.feastbythebay.org for more information.

Folks in far-northern Wisconsin continue to pray for rain. Adversity can drive people apart or it can bring them together. Fortunately near the shore of Lake Superior we mostly pull together.

Jason Maloney from Washburn in northern Wisconsin lives between Lake Superior and the orchards and farms of Bayfield County. The retired soldier and educator grew up on a family farm in Marinette County.

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