Environment
5:00 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

High Heat And Low Rainfall Affecting Local Crops

The high temperatures are not only affecting the people of Pittsburgh, but the agriculture in the area as well. Several crops have been forced into early harvest and keeping them hydrated has been quite a chore for local farmers.

Rob Shenot of Shenot Farm and Market in Marshall Township said most of their produce has survived, but is being harvested earlier than in previous years. "Every crop that we're coming across, we're starting it a couple weeks ahead of what might be considered a normal year. For instance, we started picking sweet corn on the 26th of June and normally we're just happy to have it on the Fourth of July," Shenot said.

An early spring in March followed by cold temperatures and frost in April made for a shaky start to the growing season. However, even though their crops are now faced with record-high heat and minimal rainfall, Shenot said they always look for the "silver lining."

"The plant disease pressure tends to be a little bit lower, so that kind of makes things a little bit easier on us, that we don't have to deal with as many fungi and things like that," Shenot said.

Reed Soergel of Soergel Orchards in Franklin Park said their corn crops have taken the most heat, literally, from the current conditions. "This high heat on sweet corn will sometimes kill the pollen, so when you eat the sweet corn you might see a kernel missing here and there, and that is sometimes caused by the pollen is not viable because it was killed by the heat," Soergel said.

According to AccuWeather, the month of June saw temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to the high 90s, numbers which have far exceeded the region's averages.