The 2011 growing season in central Virginia will be one for the record books, but not in a good way. It started good with an early, warm spring, but the heavy rains delayed pepper crop planting as well as many other crops. If you took the chance and planted early you were ahead of schedule. The usual mid May planting was delayed by the heavy rains. You just could not work the wet soil.
Next comes the the heat at over 105F and no rain. Irrigation was a daily process. Miss a day and your plants suffered. Then comes the invasion of the insects, For the last two year there has been a record number of stink bugs. With no natural enemies they continue to proliferate at alarming numbers. Growing organically has its challenges. Hand picking stinkbug and eggs has consumed a lot of time.
Heading into late summer and the start of harvest we were hit with very heavy flooding rains combined with high winds. The ground was totally saturated with water so when the high winds hit, 40-60% of the crop was damaged by being flatten or even worse broken off at the base, killing the plant.
Now just to make this season truly unforgettable add in hurricane Irene and a 6.0 earthquake. The wind and rain from the hurricane was not as damaging compared to the all day thunder storms. Other than a few cracks in the walls and loosing a few items that fell off shelves the earthquake did no harm except to our nerves.
To summarize, its been a bad year and crop production has been low. So if you purchase from the central east coast order your peppers and seeds early or you may miss out.
Looking forward to a better crop next year.