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Farmers: People Suffer From Heat More Than Plants Do

Though irrigation costs are up, four North Fork farmers say that this week’s heat wave is greatly benefiting their summer harvest.

Though isn’t enjoying this week’s record-breaking heat wave, he says his plants are.

“Everything's growing, with the sunshine and heat,” Krupski said after a morning of work Friday afternoon. “Corn, tomatoes, melons  — they like it hot. They're happy. We're starting to pick tomatoes, and the melons are beautiful. It's summertime weather, it's what they like — it's just brutal for us.” 

Krupski is one of at least four North Fork farmers who say that the recent heat, though excessive, is normal for mid-July and very good for summer harvest — just uncomfortable and potentially dangerous for people.

The National Weather Service issued a around noon on Friday, with the heat index reaching 110 degrees.

Eve Kaplan, organic farmer at the Garden of Eve in Riverhead, added that the heat, though beneficial for harvest, did make it difficult to irrigate her diverse range of crops — especially those newly planted like cabbage, broccoli, winter squash, and Brussels sprouts.

“If we don’t water almost every day they just die,” she said. “We wouldn’t have anything in the fall. Everything we grow – probably more than 70 percent of it — has different conditions it needs. So it ends up being complex trying to get water to everything.”

Tom Wowak, who runs a small farm stand on Route 25 in Laurel stocked with crops grown on his land in Jamesport, said that the recent high heat has actually made all of his crops, from squash and cucumbers to tomatoes and cantaloupe, grow more quickly — but broccoli doesn’t like the intense heat much.

“Broccoli tends to grow too loosely if it’s too hot, otherwise the heat is a good thing,” Wowak said on Friday afternoon.

Over in Cutchogue at on Route 25, manager Gekee Wickham agreed that, aside from higher irrigation costs, heat and sunlight have only helped her business this season.

“More sun means more photosynthesis, which turns carbohydrates into sugar and helps enhance flavor,” she said from her stand Friday afternoon. “Yes, we have to irrigate more without rain, which costs us money — but ultimately, people suffer from heat and humidity more than plants do.”

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