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Published August 18, 2010, 03:41 PM

Stifling heat affecting fruits, vegetables

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The recent blast of heat and humidity is causing complications for Kentucky growers who supply fruits and vegetables to farmers markets.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The recent blast of heat and humidity is causing complications for Kentucky growers who supply fruits and vegetables to farmers markets.

The stifling weather is keeping tomatoes, grapes and apples from developing a good ripe color, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. 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,” said John Strang, a fruits and vegetables expert at the University of Kentucky. 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.

Still, a wave of melons and fruit will be coming ripe in the wake of the heat wave, Strang said.

“The heat really speeds stuff up,” he told the Lexington newspaper.

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

Buzogany said 90-degree temperatures are affecting the growers’ desire to wait for afternoon customers.

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

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