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Fresh, Local Veggies Getting Baked in Summer Heat

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WILSON — The foods that remind us most of summer are baking under the hot sun right now. This season's dry weather is taking its toll on local crops, and the heat is causing a smaller harvest in some cases, that could mean higher prices at the checkout.

For many North Carolinians, it just isn't summer without locally grown cucumbers. Trouble is, the summertime vegetable can't handle temperatures like we've seen the past few days. Local growers have been working overtime to bring the dry crop in before it's damaged.

"We've been very busy the past couple of weeks," says cucumber grower Pam Boyette. "We probably ran an average of 10 or 11 loads every day last week until the end of the week."

Cucumbers look pretty good right now, but growers throughout the state say they expect a smaller crop this year.

Corn might also be more expensive, though most of what's consumed here is grown in other states.

The irrigated fields are fine, but many that rely on rain won't produce much this year. The biggest moneymaker, of course, is tobacco, and that's where you'll find the most irrigation.

"We usually try to start harvesting around the first or second week of July," says Tobacco farmer Michael Boyette. "In order to stay on schedule, we need to try to get it going

Strangely enough, the fruit with the most water in it, watermelon, doesn't need as much rain.

"They are used to dry weather," says watermelon grower Jimmie Worrell. "They can stand dry weather. They need a little bit of water and they've gotten a little bit, and the crop looks real good."

Growers don't expect any shortages this year, but if demand is higher than supply, your grocery bill could go up, too.

Strangely enough, the dry hot weather has brought some benefits with it. It can dramatically cut back on some tobacco crop diseases.

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
MJ Ainsley, Web Editor

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