Farmers battle intense heat to keep crops thriving

Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 5:55 PM EDT
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LULA, Ga. (CBS46) - While the region battles a heatwave, farmers have no choice but to be out in the intense conditions.

At Jaemor Farms in Hall County, Drew Echols said their goal right now is to keep about 300 acres of produce alive. It’s all about irrigation during the sweltering temperatures.

“We’re fortunate. We’re 100% irrigated here on the farm,” said Echols.

They’re working to keep squash plants cool and hydrated, for example, with a drip system that irrigates underneath plastic . Echols said that uses about a third of the water that an overhead sprinkler system would use.

“We need some rain bad. But we also need these temperatures to kind of go down just a little bit. It’s it’s hard on plants, it’s hard on our people,” he said.

As they harvest peaches, strawberries and other produce, Echols is concerned about the safety of his employees working in the hot temperatures. They’re stopping the work day at around 3 p.m. right now to get them out of the heat.

After an abnormally dry May and with a heatwave underway even before the official start of summer, Echols is hoping the forecast will take a turn soon.

He said, “The five day forecast is not very favorable. Five days from right now I don’t want to get another five day forecast that’s not very favorable. Because you start you get into, you know, a month and a half, two months of heavy irrigating in these kinds of temperatures, water sources start going down, the amount of water that we can actually pump goes down and it’s just hard to keep things alive that long for that prolonged period of time.”

There is one sweet reason he said customers should come out to the market to pick up some fruit.

Echols said, “The fact is quality and taste is much better with dry weather than it is in wet weather. Peaches, strawberries, blueberries, all those things produce more sugar whenever it’s real hot.”