Heat wave worries local growers

FRESNO, Calif.

The blazing hot sun helps sweeten the peaches and other stone fruit at KMK Farms in Kingsburg but the heat is also causing farmers to alter work schedules. Crews harvesting lavender and other crops start their shifts much earlier these days. Water and shade is always nearby.

Kyle Reynolds of KMK Farms said, "Probably the biggest thing we do is start as early as possible. We start at 5am. If it gets hot we'll quit at noon, 1, 2."

Kyle and Michele Reynolds grow over 50 organic crops over 60 acres year round on their farm. They sell their produce at farmers markets in Fresno and Visalia. No doubt this heat is causing some crop concern.

Michele said, "Some of the trees are getting stressed. These are our avocado trees and we have 11 varieties."

Reynolds said the heat is causing some of the trees to drop avocados. But the trees also provide protection from the sun for the Reynolds' egg-laying hens.

Michele explained, "They live in our avocado orchard."

Some of the younger squash and eggplant have been treated a form of sunblock to help them survive this heat wave.

Kyle Reynolds said, "It's an organic product that basically paints the plant white and keeps it cool during the heat. Anything we plant this time of year we paint it white. We're also finding that white power is made from clay, that insects don't like it so it bothers them."

Reynolds said the crops will survive the Valley heat as long as they keep them irrigated.

Some crops don't do well in the direct sun. For that reason, Reynolds grows bell peppers under a protective shade cloth.

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