Despite the fact that farmers usually welcome sunny skies and warm temperatures -- the conditions are favorable to corn and other East End favorites -- even the hardiest of farmers can wilt after weeks of scorchers.
So says Joe Gergela, executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, who said the hot weather, while conducive for growing most crops, can also be problematic.
"The weather, while great for us that farm, is a challenge with numerous problems," he said. Faced with day after day of soaring temps, farmers are in "full irrigation" mode, he said -- and are feeling the physical affects of their hard labor in blistering heat and sunshine.
Heat exhaustion, Gergela said, is an issue. "Farmers and their employees must be really careful not to succumb to the heat of the day. Sometimes, work gets done later in the day, when it cools a little."
Other repercussions can include vegetables that grow and ripen quickly and prematurely. Some crops that were planted at staggered times may ripen simultaneously, Gergela said.
And other crops, such as lettuce and leafy vegetables, can feel the heat. "Certain crops can handle stress, but others will burn right up," Gergela said. "So keeping the plants healthy and watered requires good ag management."
Riverhead farmer Phil Schmitt of Phillip A. Smitt & Son Farm Inc. said the weather poses certain challenges. "We've lost a little," he said. "You have to be careful, right on top of your harvest -- another day or two, and the lettuce may bolt."
But, he added, after last year's rain, this year's heat wave "hasn't been too bad. The reality is, it's much better than last year's flooding and rain. Last year, there was a tremendous loss."