BOONES MILL, Va. (WFXR) — The extreme heat of the past week has had a varying impact on farms in Southwest Virginia. Depending on the operation, the heat could be considered a good thing or a bad thing.
“As long as we keep getting some showers of rain, it’s not that bad because the ambient temperature of the plant stays down and it continues to grow,” said Thad Montgomery, who raises a variety of crops, livestock, and poultry on his Double M Dairy in Franklin County. “Without rain, that becomes a problem really quick.”
“Fortunately, the high-temperature range has coincided with adequate rainfall,” said Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent for Bedford County Scott Baker. “That has allowed some mitigation to the stress that is occurring for the plants and animals”
While there are concerns about heat stressing many crops, livestock, and poultry, other operations thrive in the heat.
“Corn loves the hot, as long as you have moisture in the ground,” said Mark Woods of Woods Farm near Boones Mill.
Woods farms row crops and fruit trees, and he says the heat also helps to concentrate sugars in fruits like apples and peaches. That concentrated sugar makes for higher-quality fruit. And, Woods is not alone.
“Over time, the plants will start to get dehydrated at a very limited level,” Thomas Vandiver, owner of Ramulose Ridge Vineyards in Moneta said. “I don’t want to harvest raisins, but if you can harvest grapes that are ever so slightly dehydrated, the sugars actually concentrates the sugar.”
Area livestock and poultry farmers also have to take precautions. Heat stresses beef cattle, and it can cause dairy cows to produce less milk, and chickens to produce fewer eggs. However, as long as the animals have access to shade and water, and the heat extremes do not last too long, farmers say livestock and poultry should be fine.
While the heat was something to be dealt with, farmers say the biggest impact the weather has had this year was a late frost in April that took out part of the tree fruit crop, and then a cool early summer that has delayed some row crops like beans and corn.