Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 18, 2011

Despite heat, crops aren’t suffering
By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — It’s been a hot, humid summer, but visitors to the Woodleaf Tomato Festival still can enjoy plenty of locally-grown tomatoes this year.
Rowan County farmers say their crops aren’t suffering.
Artie Watson said tomato production at Wetmore Farms in Woodleaf is going well so far this year.
Where he’ll look for heat damage is in the last tomato crop, which will be picked in September and October.
“That’s when a lot of this heat’s going to show up, maybe, possibly in the lack of fruit at that time,” Watson said.
Last week, he pointed out a few fall tomato plants on his farm that are already bearing fruit.
“I’d like to see three or four on the bottom of a plant, but there are only two on there,” he said.
The upper parts of the plants still have blooms that will give way to fruit, and it’s those blooms that are most sensitive to weather conditions. They may fall off or simply not produce tomatoes in prolonged hot, wet weather. But so far, Watson said, the plants don’t look bad.
Doug Patterson, of Patterson Farms in China Grove, also said his tomato crop is doing fine.
“We don’t have the yields that we would normally have, but we’ve had an OK year,” Patterson said.
He said it’s too soon to tell whether the summer’s high heat and humidity will hurt the fall crop.
“Normally, if there’s a hot weather pattern like that, it cools off a little bit afterward like we’ve got now … the plants can rejuvenate,” Patterson said. “We’ve got plenty of time to make up the crop before the frost, we hope.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.