ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — It’s the first day of summer, but the St. Louis area has been dealing with two weeks of dangerous heat. The heat is impacting farmers, but their weather worries actually started back in the spring.
A chilly April led to a late start to planting, followed by a wet stretch in late May. As things dried out in early June, plants and farmers began to play catch up. Then, Mother Nature cranked up the heat.
“You battle through it,” said Dave Thies with Thies Farm and Greenhouses. “You try to keep your crops on schedule. You keep the water running to them. You just keep pushing forward.”
Temperatures like we’ve seen the last two weeks can push some plants to ripen more quickly.
“The leaves will kick into overtime and produce a little more energy for that tree or plant and push it a little bit more,” said Thies. “We’re seeing that now with our early tomatoes that we grow in the greenhouse.”
But it can be destructive to others.
“The heat is probably the worst thing for raspberries because they will just drop off the bush, basically, when it gets this hot,” he said.
Thies said when temperatures climb above 95 degrees, pollen in blossoms can die. No pollen for pollinators means those blossoms are not viable. He expects a gap in availability for this two-week period for crops that didn’t pollinate well, like tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.
“Even if it cools down to 90, even 95 seems to be the threshold,” he said. “Then, you are back to normal. But you’ll never make up for that ten days or two weeks that we’ve had the high temperatures.”
So, what would Dave Thies hope to see in our seven-day forecast?
“Normal 85, 90-degree temperatures are perfect. If you can order up a rain once a week, maybe a half-inch to an inch would be perfect,” joked Thies.
Thies said blackberries are perfecting for picking over the next two weeks. Peaches are on schedule and apple trees are going gangbusters early in their growing season. They will watch for mites on those apple trees. Mites thrive in hot and dry weather.