NJ farmers struggle amid hot, dry weather
The fall harvest this year at New Jersey farms is being accomplished with a strong dose of extra irrigation to compensate for the extended dry spell the state has been facing all season.
In fact, some New Jersey farmers have been admitting their tomatoes are not very good this year. But as with a lot of things in New Jersey, it depends on where in the state you are. Kurt Alstede of Alstede Farms in Morris County said farmers work harder to water crops with irrigation in dry, hot weather.
But he says the extra cost of water is also factored into the farm business budget.
"You always consider that expense as part of your overall budget," Alstede said.
However, he said it dry weather doesn't necessarily mean bad crops.
"Certainly if you are raising crops for wholesale, and there is a glut of these crops and the market price is really low, then a little bit of extra irrigation expense can burn you a little bit." He says believe it or not, dry weather produces better quality, with higher sugar content and a less diluted flavor. "Dry weather does have a silver lining."
Alstede said there is what he calls, "regionality" when it comes to farming and weather in New Jersey.
"Up North, we seem to have gotten some rain," he said. "Areas in Central Jersey have not."
Central Jersey seems to be the area that is the driest right now. And for farmers that are raising a lot of grain crops, it is a little bit more challenging for them. Some of those crops do not have irrigation.
According to Alstede, dry weather late in the season is better than dry weather early.
"But I understand there are some growers that are having a little bit of a challenge finishing off some of their grain crops," Alstede said.
He said the fall crops that struggle in hot weather are spinach and lettuce.
"They fare better in cooler temperatures," Alstede said. "Crops that we plant, expecting cooler weather are not thriving the way that they normally would because of the continued warm weather that we are facing."