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What is "Dry Farmed?"

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Been seeing a lot of tomatoes in the markets that have been "dry farmed." The market people seem to be highlighting that technique as though there's something better about dry farmed tomatoes compared to wet(?) farmed fruits.

So, what exactly is dry farming? What makes it better than other types of farming, especially wrt tomatoes? Can all tomatoes be dry farmed successfully, or are some not good choices for the technique?

Tasting dry vs otherwise farmed tomatoes I didn't notice anything outstanding about them, nor did they seem to have any greater or deeper flavor than the regular tomatoes I tried.

FWIW, all tomatoes were locally grown, organic, fresh picked (within 24-hours). No supermarket fruit.
post #2 of 12
Dry farming means not using irrigation.
post #3 of 12
I haven't heard that term used in years, Shel, and have no idea what it currently means.

Dry farming was a very big discipline in pre-dust bowl days. I forget the name of the big proponent, but it was a way of using various water-conservation techniques (contour plowing, for instance, came into its own back then) in relatively arid regions like parts of Nebraska and Colorado, so that crops could be brought in.

Maybe. Very controversial. Maybe one year in three or four the farmer's made money, and abandoned homesteads proliferated even before the big drought and the dust storms.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 12
Dry farming is quite common in Utah though you have to be very selective of which crops to use.

To dry farm a tomato would mean it would have to be grown in a naturally much wetter environment than here for example.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #5 of 12
Aha, you haven't been keeping up with what's happening at the USDA. :D The term has not gone out of service and has a very simple meaning... no irrigation. Very much like Phatch describes.
post #6 of 12
You're right, Free Rider. I try and pay as little attention to the USDA as possible.

I know that originally, dry farming meant more than not irrigating. It meant not having the water to irrigate with.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 12
Still largely does, at least in my neck of the woods.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #8 of 12
I think California proved that one can always get the water from elsewhere if one really wants to irrigate. :)

Ever see the movie Chinatown? Based on those shenanigans.
post #9 of 12
Perhaps in the modern context it refers to not being hydroponically-grown? Those little nasty-tasting wethouse tomaters are all over here...
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
The movie Chinatown depicted the taking of water for LA from other areas of California. Much of the water that is needed in California is needed in the south. Those buggers keep trying to get our (Northern California) water. They've taken so much from our mountains that the central valley, which used to flood, no longer does.
post #11 of 12
And from Arizona...
post #12 of 12
My Grandpa runs a dry farm in Utah and it amazes me that there are regions that can dry farm tomatoes. I did a google search on dry farmed tomatoes and found this quote that talks about possible advantages of dry farmed tomatoes:

At Gary Ibsen's 2005 Carmel TomatoFest in Carmel Valley, California, there were two plates of 'Early Girl' tomatoes on the tasting tables. One was among the sweetest, most intensely flavored fruits at the show, while the other — its genetic twin — was an unremarkable also-ran.

What made the difference? It all came down to culture. The unremarkable one was grown conventionally, while the sweet one was dry-farmed (a technique possible only where the ground retains enough moisture to support the plant all season long with no irrigation—like some areas near the Northern California coast, for example). Dry farming has several advantages. It keeps water off the leaves so plants aren't as susceptible to late blight, it concentrates sugar in the fruit, and it minimizes fruit splitting, which results when late-season irrigation pushes pressure inside the fruit past the breaking point. Among the disadvantages, dry-farmed plants produce fewer, smaller fruits than conventionally grown tomatoes.

Growing tips from the masters
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