Valley Farms Seek to Protect Workers, Livestock from Heat Wave

May 16, 2008 7:05:34 PM PDT
The intense heat has Valley farmers taking precautions to protect their workers and livestock.People aren't acclimated to this kind of heat so early in May. Some farm groups have issued advisories to local growers to protect farm laborers from heat illness.

For those who toil in the sun every day the heat can be hazardous. Farmers this week were reminded of the need to keep their workers hydrated during the heat wave.

Small Farms Advisor Michael Yang said "Tell them to get plenty of water and get rest and maybe in the shade for a while. Don't stay out in the sun because everyone's a hard worker." The sun helps sweeten the strawberries Nelson Yang sells at his stand but right now they're getting too much of a good thing. The high temperatures can burn the berries right on the vine and shorten the growing season. Yang said "It's a nice place to grow things but sometimes you just have to be careful with the heat."

The cows at Steve Nash's Selma dairy have it made in the shade. At 80-degrees fans automatically kick on, followed by the misters to keep the cows cool. Nash said "What we're trying to do is actually drench from the top and all the way down to the sides and then let the fans provide the evaporating cooling from that. We want to drench it to the skin, not just the hair."

When cows get too hot, they're not very productive. By keeping them cool, they're able to rest comfortably. Nash said "Well you know what happens they stop eating, just like we do when we get too hot."

Nash said the heat wave has forced many farmers to alter the work schedules of their employees. "We definitely try to get our intensive work done in the morning and we do start earlier."


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