Valley farmers working hard to keep crops cool

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The summer heat is a big reason why the Valley is such an ideal growing area, but this heat wave is also causing sunburn in blackberries. (KFSN)

The heat wave also has many Valley farmers concerned about their crops.

The summer heat is a big reason why the Valley is such an ideal growing area, but this heat wave is also causing sunburn in blackberries.

Blackberries need the sun's heat to build up sugar to make them sweet, but too much intense heat can cause sunburn in fruit. Paul Willems of Kingsburg uses protective netting to cover his blackberries.

"Well we hope to keep a little so they don't burn as bad," he said. "But I think the heat just cooks them, and we try to grow some grass in the field to keep the humidity up"

Underneath the net, it does feel a little cooler.

"I don't know maybe, five to 10 degrees, Willems said. "With the grass, it can be 10 degrees cooler."

But the damage is apparent in several berries.

"Some days they just burn," he explained. "It's the high UV or even when they're protected underneath, the heat will just cook them."

Willems' blueberries aren't as sensitive to the heat, so they don't need to be covered.

Paul and his wife Gayle, the Berry Lady, ship their fruit all over the US and Canada. These packs will be sold at stores like Albertson's and Safeway.

This heat wave though has damaged much of the crop.

"Sometimes you lose 30 percent or more," he said.

But Paul says it's just a hazard of farming. All he can do is keep his crop irrigated. When it gets hot, they taste better so it's a Catch-22. No heat, they taste sour."

Farmers are always at the mercy of Mother Nature and Willems is looking forward to next week. The blackberry and blueberry season is winding down, but Willems worries too much that intense heat will cut the season short.

Because of the heat, crews have been working very early in the morning.

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