Business

Heat hurrying fruits to market

Janis Talbert stopped to buy a watermelon from Shawn Isamen at the Good Thymes Garden booth at the Lexington Farmers Market at Broadway and West Maxwell Street on Tuesday.
Janis Talbert stopped to buy a watermelon from Shawn Isamen at the Good Thymes Garden booth at the Lexington Farmers Market at Broadway and West Maxwell Street on Tuesday.

Get your peaches and melons — your extra sweet peaches and melons — right now.

In the wake of this summer's heat wave, a wave of melons and fruit is coming, said John Strang, a fruits and vegetables expert at the University of Kentucky.

"The heat really speeds stuff up," Strang said. So it's about all growers can do to keep up right now — and that means the end for some fruits' season might be coming sooner than normal.

On the plus side, those fruits are extra sweet.

"This hot, dry weather has pumped up the sugar this year," Strang said. "There are some great-tasting peaches, blackberries and melons out there."

The recent high heat and humidity have complicated things for Kentucky farmers-market growers.

The weather is keeping tomatoes, grapes and apples from developing a good ripe color, and it's causing some fall crops of green beans, peppers, tomatoes, squash and pumpkins not to set the blossoms necessary to produce the next wave of the crop.

"I had a call from a grower who said his buyer only wants cherry-red tomatoes," Strang said. In this heat, tomatoes just don't want to make that color, he said.

Grapes, too, are a little lighter in pigment than is desirable, which could mean early wines won't be as dark.

"When you're making wine, you want a lot of reds," he said.

And there might be some holes in production, because the heat affects blossoming and pollination of fall crops.

Sarah Buzogany, assistant manager of the Lexington Farmers Market, said there should still be plenty of fall vegetables.

"We're not missing any crop, but at some point, things may get a little thinner than you'd like," she said.

The weather also is sapping another commodity necessary for the market: stamina.

Buzogany said 90-degree temperatures are definitely affecting growers' taste for lingering in wait for afternoon customers.

"Nobody wants to sit out in the heat all day," she said.

  Comments