NASHVILLE - It’s been hot, lately. Have you noticed? Tennessee’s crops have noticed, too, hit with a deadly combination of record heat and drought conditions. In such widespread and long lasting situations, many summer fruits and vegetables stop growing and stop producing blossoms or fruits, even if the plant survives.
After an early and auspicious start, Tennessee’s sweet corn has all vanished at local farm markets. Other crops anticipated for later in the season, like melons, may never make much of an appearance at all.
As if stress and resulting damage to crops is not enough, extreme high temperatures make harvesting remaining crops more difficult. Worker safety is a concern, as well as the shelf life of produce that’s been picked. Harvesting very early or late in the day lessens heat stress for both plants and persons. Getting harvests out of orchards, fields and vineyards to cooler shaded areas to reduce field heat accumulation is even more important.