Are NJ Crops Holding Up in the Heat? [AUDIO]
June was the wettest on record in New Jersey and while the rain has let up, intense heat and humidity has taken its place, which has resulted in some additional challenges for farmers across the state.
"It certainly isn't the best scenario for crops to go from high amounts of rain to extreme heat and humidity," said Ben Casella, Field Representative with the New Jersey Farm Bureau. "It creates some disease pressures from different bacteria and fungus."
Basically, it makes farmers' jobs a bit more difficult because they have to be more diligent in their fungicide spray applications for the crops.
"They have a lot of tools to handle these kinds of scenarios, but it is difficult," said Casella. "The heat also is catching everything up and bringing crops on much faster than they would come up under normal weather conditions. This is especially the case for tomatoes, peppers and squash."
It's actually much easier for farmers to work under drought conditions.
"When you plan for drought conditions, you have to make sure you have adequate water supply. Unfortunately, in a year like this, you can't take the water off so it's certainly more favorable for fruits and vegetables to be on the drier side," said Casella. "It definitely creates a few more hurdles, including the added expense of the additional fungicide applications and there can be less yield as a result of the damage caused by the bacteria and fungus."
With the intense humidity expected to let up by week's end, farmers are banking on the later planted crops.
"The yields and quality are expected to improve with less rainfall and less humidity," said Casella. "So, the hope is that the later crops will come up nicely and make up for any losses."