Can’t handle the heat? According to a recent NASA study, 2016 is on track to becoming the hottest year yet! With major heat waves worldwide and record breaking temperatures, the agriculture business is worried about produce. So how are our crops and farmers handling this?
One of our farm managers, Zach, doubles up on the watering schedules and uses a row cover as a shade cloth to protect transplants. He does maintain, however, this heat for some crops (such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc.) because it promotes fruiting. Such crops tend to be grown by professionals in high tunnels with average temperatures reaching 120 degrees during this time of year.
Manny, another one of our farm managers, says that extended days of high heat with high nighttime temperatures increase the risk of bolting for certain greens such as lettuce and cause increased stress over all for crops that prefer cooler temperatures. Transplants and young plants are at greatest risk of succumbing to heat, so thorough irrigation is key. This requires careful measurement and regulation as crops dealing with water stress are more susceptible to pests and disease. The heat of midsummer is a great time for beneficial foliar sprays to give tired crops a nutrient and immunity boost.