Heat wave limits quantity, quality from farmers' fields
Posted June 6, 2008
Smithfield, N.C. — North Carolina farmers are feeling the heat. The early summer hot spell is drying up crops and profits in Johnston County.
John Wheeler and his partner, Wayne Perry, usually pick their vegetables at the end of the week for sale at the Franklin County Farmer's Market. But a string days with temperatures in the 90s had them sweating to find something to sell this week.
"I worry about it and I lose sleep at night," Perry said.
He expects his fields will yield only half their normal bounty. The quality of his products is down as well. He and Wheeler picked cabbage that was shriveled and had holes.
He expects to have to raise prices to make up for the loss.
"The prices on everything [are] going up, so we have to go up. We have no choice," he said.
At Rocky Ridge Farm, Steve McCalla is trying to salvage what he can from the brutal heat. He said his crop of tomatoes and peppers won't be hardy enough for this kind of heat until later in the growing season.
"It's taking a lot of moisture out of the soil," McCalla observed.
He estimated that one-third of the peppers he planned to sell at the Wake Forest Farmer's Market had dried, cracked and turned to dust.
With the increased heat comes the need for more water to support the crops, pushing the farmers' costs even higher.
"The sun and the heat right now is killing our life," Perry said.