East Texas produce growers face challenging summer heat

For produce growers, it’s a challenging time entering the hottest part of the East Texas summer.
Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 3:11 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - For produce growers, it’s a challenging time entering the hottest part of the East Texas summer.

With at or near triple-digit temperatures, plants can wither and die if they are not meticulously cared for. East Texas hay fields are healthy with second and third cuts, and other fields are green and growing, but already brown patches of dried grass are appearing.

“Definitely not a good time to establish any plant,” said Gregg county Texas A&M Agri-life Extension Agent Shanequa Davis. “You’re going to be fighting the heat and the temperatures to get those roots established. At this point, pretty much all plants are slowly dying off.”

A good spring and early summer with plenty of rainfall helped growers’ plants thrive with healthy produce. But, with near triple-digit heat, plants begin to wither.

“I heard a lot of farmers; the heat is just brutal on their fields. We do a lot of cacti and succulents that are more heat resistant,” said Highway 80 Produce Owner and Grower Allison Lott.

The intense heat is beginning to wither plants, but watering during the heat of the day could do more harm than good.

“We’re having to water several times a day,” Lott said.

“The heat is going to evaporate a lot of that water, and you’re heating up that plant because the water is going to be warmer as it’s coming out. If you’re watering frequently every day, you’re keeping those roots real shallow to the surface,” Davis said.

Essentially, you’re cooking your plant.

“You want to water in the morning time, so the earlier you water is the better time,” Davis said.

Being meticulous is the key to keeping plants alive and producing.

“The big thing right now is to make sure your plants are covered with mulch, that you’re watering at the proper time of day,” Davis said.

And, Davis said if you’re considering planting for fall, you should check with your area “Ag” agent on what varieties are best to plant.