Looking for good produce this summer? Be patient.

Jul. 23, 2013 @ 05:58 PM

Heavy rains in June created a burst of produce, but it may not last much longer.  There could be a production lull before the season ends.
“It has turned out better that I thought it would,” said farmer Joe Peterson of Sophia who offered produce Tuesday at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market. “We have plenty right now. It may not last too long. We may run out before the season is over.”
Across the state, June was unusually cool and wet. Rain totaled eight inches as measured at Piedmont Triad International Airport, nearly five inches above normal. So far in July, rain has totaled nearly five inches and for the year rainfall is nearly eight inches above normal.
“With so much rain and so little sun, some of the plants did not bloom,” Peterson said.
Overall produce ranging from tomatoes to squash and okra and other crops has suffered.
“We have some good tomatoes, but some of them drowned,” Peterson said.
Earlier this month, State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said farmers across North Carolina are hurting.
“Name a region of the state, and this rainfall has had some type of impact on crops there,” he said.
On many fields, the tall corn looks good. But wet conditions have cut production, said Bradley Stoltz of Winston-Salem.
“It has been a tough year. It has been so wet and cool and too many cloudy days,” Stoltz said. “I have about half as much corn as I usually have this time of the year. It’s been hard to get into the fields to cultivate.”
Wet conditions can also cause rot and blight, especially on tomatoes, in home gardens. State agricultural agents usually recommend against trying to recover from blight damage with chemicals in small home gardens because it can be expensive.

Tips for dealing with plants in a rainy season:

—Plants that loose their blooms may not produce vegetables or fruit. Consider replanting if it’s not too late.
—Aerate your soil. Plants growing in water-saturated soil have a hard time getting the needed oxygen through their roots.
—Kill disease. Avoid or eliminate diseases like powdery mildew, brown patch and early blight that result from too-wet foliage by applying fungicide products like Serenade or Daconil.
—Allow air to blow between plants by planting them with at least enough space to step between them.
—Don’t harvest or touch plants when they’re wet. For waterborne diseases, hands can transfer the disease from one plant to another.

Common diseases to watch out for in the garden:
—Powdery Mildew is one of the most common leaf diseases. It thrives in hot humid or cool damp weather. Prevention is the best cure for this problem. Treat disease prone plants with a spray or dust of Garden Sulphur every week to 10 days. Cucumbers and squash are a few of the plants to watch.
—Leaf Blight is a wide group of diseases that show up on many plants. It shows up as irregular dead spots on the leaves. Copper Sulphate is the best product to use for this problem.