They’re the sweet tastes of summer: tomatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers, zucchini and so much more.
As the final weeks of summer get underway, produce can be found across Wisconsin farm stores, roadside stands and farmers markets.
In the Janesville area, nearly all the summer produce, with the exception of some melons, is being harvested now, according to Laura Skelly, an owner of Skelly’s Farm Market. Skelly’s Farm Market produce, grown on about 100 acres, is sold alongside supplemental produce shipped in, such as Michigan blueberries and Georgia peaches.
The current home location for Skelly’s Farm Market, which has been around since 2007, also features a playground, bakery, displays from local businesses and more to make it into a one-stop destination, Skelly said. The whole enterprise began by selling sweet corn out a garage in the 1990s.
In addition to the home farm, Skelly’s Farm Market produce can be found at eight roadside locations in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois and at the Janesville Farmers Market.
Sweet corn picking started about a week earlier than usual, around July 7, due to the stretches of intense heat Wisconsin saw early into summer, Skelly said. Accompanying the heat, drought concerns have plagued much of the state, but especially southern Wisconsin, this summer.
At Skelly’s Farm Market, though, Skelly said everything looks normal this year thanks to their irrigation system. But without that irrigation, she suspected they wouldn’t have had much of a crop to sell. The occasional heavy rainfall events they’ve seen have been too sporadic with too much time in between to lessen their reliance on irrigation this year.
Still, Skelly said she’d rather have things this way than be flooded and in a situation where they couldn’t do anything to help their crops. With this summer’s weather conditions, she noted that they were “always trying to look on the bright side.”
Irrigation also helped save Skelly’s Farm Market’s strawberry crop earlier this year against late frost (strawberries can be protected by a coating of ice when the temperature drops below freezing). The strawberries did still have a shorter season due to the extreme heat that followed closely behind the late-spring frost.
Skelly’s Farm Market uses multiple planting of produce crops to stretch the summer produce season through mid-August with many of their offerings. For example, the first sweet corn starts going in in April, with additional plantings done at an accelerating pace as spring progresses.
Not much summer produce is available after Labor Day, Skelly said, which coincides with when they lose much of their summertime staff.
After a crazy 2020, Skelly said the market has been seeing normal levels of crowds this year. Due to opening of the farm’s short, intense sunflower season, traffic to the farm has picked up more recently.