Not all the votes are in, but most pick-your-own farmers agree: The drought made it a tough summer. Still, tomatoes, summer squash and most kinds of peppers are available for roughly the same price as last year. Pickings are slimmer for green beans, egg plant, okra and cucumbers, which will be around for a few weeks yet.
Grape growers say they fared comparatively well. "Grapes can withstand the damage since they are deep-rooted," says John Paul of the 15-acre Provenza Vineyard in Brookville, Maryland. "The only problem is the fruit is a little smaller and the acid level is lower, making for a sweeter wine."
If you're looking to make your own wine, jelly or juice, the grapes are ready now and might last for the next two weeks, the growers say.
The fall crops still have the farmers guessing. Greens crops of collards, kale, turnips, rape, mustard, watercress and spinach should be ready in another couple of weeks. "Fall crops should be the best of the year," reports Maureen Allnutt of the Homestead Farm in Poolesville, Maryland. Summer squash has been "skimpy," but a few new corn fields and late-growing squash are expected to do better since the recent rain.
Apples and gourds are on the way and should be plentiful through fall, the farmers say. Pumpkins won't be ready for several weeks. There're two schools of thought concerning this year's pumpkins: (1) It'll be a good pumpkin year, and (2) It'll be a bad year, causing prices to rise.
Following is a list of pick-your-own farms, and an approximate picking schedule of fruits and vegetables. A lot depends on the weather, so remember to call the farms first. FRUIT APPLES -- Through the end of October. PEACHES -- Through September 23. RASPBERRIES -- Through September 30. VEGETABLES COLLARD & MUSTARD GREENS -- Through November 1. GREEN BEANS -- Through October 10. POTATOES -- Through September 30. TURNIPS -- Through November 1. WINTER SQUASH -- Through October 20. BROCCOLI -- October 1 through October 31. CAULIFLOWER -- October 1 through October 31. INDIAN CORN -- October 1 through October 31. KALE -- October 1 through October 31. LETTUCE -- October 1 through October 31. ORNAMENTAL GOURDS -- October 1 through Oct. 31 PUMPKINS -- October 1 through October 31. SPINACH -- October 1 through October 31. MARYLAND
FREDERICK COUNTY GLADE LINK FARM -- 9332 Links Bridge Road, Walkersville. broccoli, cauliflower and pumpkins. 301/898-7131.
HOWARD COUNTY LARRILAND FARM -- three miles south of I-70 on Route 94. Apples, limas, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkins. 301/854-6110. SEWELL'S ORCHARDS -- 6233 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia. Apples, blackberries, pumpkins. 301/730-5500.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY BUTLER'S ORCHARD -- 22200 Davis Mill Road, Germantown. Red raspberries, tomatoes, lima beans, wine grapes, summer flowers, pumpkins. 301/972-3299. HOMESTEAD FARM -- 15600 Sugarland Road, Poolesville. Red raspberries, grapes, tomatoes, green beans. 301/977- 3761, 977-3898. THOMPSON'S FARM PRODUCE -- 6400 Oak Hill Road, Silver Spring. Black-eyed peas, okra, tomatoes, green beans. 421- 9215.
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY DARROW BROTHERS -- 5900 Bell Station Road, Glen Dale. Green beans. 301/390-6611, 6191. PARKER FARMS -- 12720 Parker Lane, Clinton. Okra, tomatoes, green and hot peppers, egg plant, lima beans, butter beans, purple hulls, squash, beets, cucumbers, string beans, greens and pumpkins. Call now for torch-light and haywagon pumpkin tours. 301/292-3940. KERBY'S MARKET 8407 Indian Head Highway, Oxon Hill. Greens, pumpkins. 301/567-4375. VIRGINIA
CULPEPER COUNTY RAPIDAN BERRY GARDENS -- Rapidan. Tomatoes, okra, peppers, eggplant, fresh-dug sweet potatoes, pumpkins. 703/672-4235.
FAIRFAX COUNTY COX FARMS -- 2599 Chain Bridge Road, Vienna. Opening October 10. Pumpkins. 830-4121. POTOMAC VEGETABLE FARMS -- 9627 Leesburg Pike, Vienna. Roma tomatoes, raspberries, okra, Swiss Chard, basil, dill, celery, cut flowers, Kentucky Wonders, Bush Blue Lake and Romano beans. 703/759-2119.
FAUQUIER COUNTY HARTLAND ORCHARD -- Markham. Apples. 703/364-2316.
LOUDOUN COUNTY CHANTILLY FARM MARKET -- Route 2, Leesburg. Pumpkins. 703/777-4041. COCHRAN'S FARM -- Route 7, Purcellville. Tomatoes, summer squash, green beans, bell peppers, pumpkins and winter squash. 703/338-7248, 7002. HILL HIGH -- Route 1, Box 14, Round Hill. Peaches, pears, plums, apples. 703/471-1448. WHEATLAND VEGETABLE FARMS -- Route 1, Purcellville. Beans (conditional). 703/882-3996.
ORANGE COUNTY DARNELL'S PRODUCE -- 249 BelleviewAvenue, Orange. Green beans, watercress. 703/672-3426. DOUBLE B FARMS -- Route 1, Box 154C, Rhoadesville. Pumpkins. 703/854-4550.
SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY RICK & VAN'S -- Route 4, Fredericksburg. Beans, okra, black-eyed peas and tomatoes. 703/775-7890. BELVEDERE -- Route 17, Fredericksburg. Pumpkins (during October), raspberries. 703/371-8494. MARYLAND GRAPES ANNE ARUNDEL CALLIE AND HOWARD GORDON -- 287 Sansbury Road, Friendship. 301/855-7309.
CALVERT COUNTY SEIDEL FARM -- Plum Point Road, Huntingtown. 301/535- 2128.
CHARLES COUNTY BEL ALTON VINEYARDS -- Box 191 Mudd Road, Bel Alton. 301/934-3847, 934-3561.
HOWARD COUNTY INGLESCENE VINEYARD -- 14300 Old Frederick Road, Sykesville. 301/795-4734, 301/854-6386.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY PROVENZA VINEYARD -- 805 Greenbridge Road, Brookville. 774-2310. TRUNDLE HALL VINEYARD -- 17800 Trundle Road, Dickerson. 301/972-7227.
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY BALD EAGLE VINEYARD -- 16801 Croom Road, Brandywine. 301/579-6853. PARKCROFT VINEYARD -- 10110 Livingston Road, Broad Creek. 301/292-2777. HOLLYOAK VINEYARD -- 21606 Aquasco Road, Aquasco. 301/888-1496. WILLOW HILL FARM -- 7104 SE Crain Highway, Upper Marlboro. 301/952-1085.