The lack of rain has really taken a toll on produce. Farmers are doing everything they can to get fruits and veggies to your dinner plate, but it hasn't been easy. Vendors are having to spend money to get what little crops they can.
Farmers are having to constantly run water wells to irrigate crops, and that's driving up their electricity costs; They're spending more money on labor. Despite all their efforts, sales are still dropping because the heat is just too much for crops. Farmers' Market Vendor Becky Morath says, "The bell peppers, we're irrigating them. And because of the heat temperature, they will not set up. They're not producing, the peppers aren't producing. They'll bloom and fall off. " Morath says she's been in the business for more than 20 years, but this year has been especially devastating for her and all Texoma farmers. She says it was hard to plant with the strong winds in the spring. And when they were finally able to grow some crops, the heat started drying out produce. That's why she's been forced to step up efforts to keep crops watered.
Morath says, "Spending a lot more money on electricity this year keeping the water wells going, irrigating everything. Spend more money on labor moving irrigation pipe because you're constant. If you don't keep it watered it's not going to grow. " Right now, black-eyed peas aren't producing because of the lack of rain. And they had to throw away half of their potatoes because of the heat. Morath says, "Once you hit a certain temperature, you just don't produce any fruits. Some stuff just cannot produce in the heat." And it's not just the current conditions that have affected crops. Morath says they don't have any apples or peaches because of the February Freeze. This year's extreme conditions are taking a toll on their livelihoods. Farmers' Market Vendor Hunter Morath says, "We replanted about 3 or 4 times now. We've been planting since January. And it's just the heat and dry wind is killing." Texoma Farmer Steve Young says his sales alone have decreased 90 percent.
The heat is also affecting sales because it's just too hot outside for vendors to stay at the Wichita Falls Farmers' Market until closing time. The market is supposed to close at five in the evening, but vendors tell Newschannel 6 many of them start leaving at noon, and they are all usually gone by three. While many crops have been greatly affected by the weather, there are some that are actually doing really well. Vendors say squash, cucumbers, and okra all like the heat. Those crops are helping compensate some of the losses.