The Heatwave Isn’t Hurting New Jersey’s Summer Crops
After a cool spring and a rainy start to the summer, it's been hot and dry for the past month or so, leading to some concern about New Jersey's fruit and vegetable crops.
Agriculture is the Garden State's third largest industry, generating sales in excess of $1 billion annually.
According to New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher, the changeable weather has not caused any real problems in the fields.
"We have some things that are positive, meaning the fruit is very sweet," Fisher said. "Sometimes the less rain you have, it helps to increase the sugar content, for instance peaches right now are really quite fabulous and in high season; the corn is high."
He also said the well-known Jersey tomato crop is looking terrific this year.
"Certain parts of the state, southern parts, the tomatoes are coming on stronger, field grown varieties are coming on so it's looking pretty good, and the blueberry crop is also outstanding," Fisher said.
Fisher said the weather was "nip and tuck for a while there, but actually it's turning out to be a great season, and we're expecting 60 million plus pounds of blueberries, they are plump and sweet."
He said it's always better to get not quite enough rain, as opposed to too much.
"There's many different systems that we apply moisture through. Certainly drip irrigation is one way, where it's a precision amount of moisture that's delivered to each and every plant, and other types of crops utilize overhead irrigation guns - that spray water out over a certain area," he said.
The bottom line, said Fisher, is it's always better to be able to irrigate than it is to be flooded, because if crops that are close to the ground get too much moisture it can cause disease, and farmers can't get into the fields because their tractors will get stuck.
"The farmers are always dancing in and out of weather and trying to adjust," Fisher said. "But right now things are good. We're hopeful that some rain will come through, just enough, so not to worry, it's a good season."