North Texas farmers worry extreme heat are stunting crops and hurting attendance at markets
Extreme temperatures are hurting some North Texas farmers financially. The hot weather is stunting their crops and they are worried that the hot weather is driving away customers at local markets, where they rely heavily on in-person sales for their businesses.
Jefferson Braga is a vendor at the Dallas Farmers Market and owns Braga Farms, an urban farm that operates in the DFW area. Braga said the lack of rain in North Texas is hurting his crops.
“We didn’t have rain for a month in the late Spring, May into the summer,” Braga said. “And even now in the summer we’ve hardly had any rain. The crops are a little bit smaller.”
Braga sells eggplants, fresh herbs and various greens at two markets including the Saint Michaels Farmers Market. Braga said he doesn’t have enough produce to sell because of Dallas’ recent triple-digit weather.
Amanda Austin, a manager at the Coppell Farmers Market, said that farmers have noticed that their summer crops are late to bloom because of the heat. And this has pushed back their planting schedules for the fall. Farmers planting fruits and vegetables have told her they are struggling.
Austin said slower periods of crop growth for farmers usually happen from August to September.
“This year, the impact [of the heat] came an entire month early,” Austin said. “Farmers started struggling three to four weeks ago.”
Local farmers said they will continue to do everything they can to attract more customers to their stalls. They are encouraging people to support local markets.
“We’ll have a lull for about a month where the only folks passing by are on their way [to somewhere else]. It’s not as busy,” Braga said.
Local farmers markets in North Texas are looking for ways to beat the heat.
The Coppell Farmers Market has started to offer ice water two times a day and keeps electrolyte drinks to prevent heat exhaustion. And the market has set hours from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturdays to avoid the heat, especially during summers.
The Dallas Farmers Market is providing fans and shade to vendors who sell produce at their location. They also are offering free water to vendors and buyers.
Braga is still selling produce at the local markets. But he’s also looking at other options to boost his revenue. He is offering $50 workshops where he teaches people how to grow and produce crops of their own at his urban farm.
Yaamini Jois is an intern at KERA through the UNT/ Scripps Howard Foundation high school internship program. You can follow Yaamini on Twitter @yjois12.
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