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Crops faced heavy rain, now face sweltering heat

Published: Jun. 18, 2021 at 5:25 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 11:10 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - What is going from an extremely wet East Texas spring right into intense summer heat doing to crop producers?

Is it too much of an extreme? Going from a month of rain to 90-degree heat?

“We can’t really tell, it’s just based on what the weather pattern does,” said Gregg County Texas A & M Agri-life extension agent Shaniqua Davis.

The sudden change is not good for plants like cool weather crops such as lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and peas. They suffer in hot weather, even with consistent water, and when temperatures rise over 80 degrees, these plants tend to stop growing,

“Those are going to be cooler weather plants, depends on the variety and what your planting based on the growing season,” Davis said.

Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn, melons, and squash need at least a month of 80- to 90-degree weather to develop an abundant crop.

“Some of them, they got their crops planted a little later, so they are hurting a little bit because the roots are very shallow,” Davis said.

One of the most important crops in East Texas is hay. And growers are welcoming the sun and heat.

“So now hay producers are able to get out in the field, do the first cutting.

The last several years, we’ve had a tremendous amount of rain in May and June, which cause your hay production to slow down,” Davis said.

A 2019 University of Illinois study showed years with heatwaves experienced yield loss of up to 37 percent of crops.

Heavy rains can restrict root growth, and cause oxygen deficiency.

“We went from a lot of rain to no rain, so it dried out. The top surface of our soil dried out very quickly,” Davis said.

Davis said watch your garden, look for any signs of heat stress, and keep your gardens. ‘not over-watered,’ but consistently watered.

As a tip to gardeners, Davis said to “water early in the day is best, not late in the evening, just because if you have water sitting on those leaves, it encourages bacterial and fungal growth to occur. So that’s why [water] early in the morning so that way the leaf foliage has all day to dry.”

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