Extended heat wave being felt by New Jersey farmers

Growers say stretches like this are exactly why they stagger their crops, to prevent entire fields from being wiped out.

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Monday, July 25, 2022
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Growers in New Jersey say these brutally hot conditions have been hard on certain crops.

SPRINGFIELD TWP., New Jersey (WPVI) -- As Dave Specca inspects his crops in Springfield Township, Burlington County, he points out the impact the heat has already had on crops like flat Italian beans and tomatoes.

"The pollination of the fruit is uneven and that's how you get these misshapen tomatoes," he said, holding up a small green tomato that's clearly flatter on one side.

He says these brutally hot conditions have been hard on certain crops.

And they're doing their best to keep them watered.

"Fortunately we have irrigation and we've been able to use some types of irrigation that are very efficient, but it requires running the pump 24 hours a day," said Specca.

But he says stretches like this are exactly why they stagger their crops, to prevent entire fields from being wiped out.

He's still confident their pick-your-own offerings starting in August will be plentiful.

Farmers around the garden state - and the country - are feeling the affects of this heatwave, according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

"There are some devastating effects where some farmers are losing some fields where they just can't catch up," said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher.

If fewer crops are produced, it could mean higher produce prices down the road.

Officials say all the more reason to buy local produce either at a grocery store or directly from a farm stand.

"It brings a larger percentage of income to that farmer. But they need the supermarkets too. They need the major chains and small grocery stores to carry their product to have a full compliment of a season," said Fisher.

Specca says while prices in stores can fluctuate, they tend to keep their pick-your-own prices the same throughout the season, which is popular with customers.

Fisher says New Jersey's situation is nowhere near the dire conditions out west.

There are some crops that prefer the hot weather. Okra, cantaloupe, watermelon and grapes will likely benefit from this heatwave and yield even better quality.

"They're going to be sweeter than ever this year because they're not going to be drowned out by rains," said Fisher.