Utah farmers having added struggles growing tomato harvest this year
Farmers and ranchers have been dealing with challenges in production this year, from increased input costs for items like fuel and fertilizer, to managing water in a severe drought. But produce growers, especially those with tomatoes, have had added challenges due to conditions this past spring.
According to growers and USU Extension experts, the decreased yield in tomatoes have generally been centered around three factors. First, windy conditions spread the Beet leafhopper to spread to even wider locations, leading to increased instances of Beet curly top virus, which over a few weeks will cause the plants to dry up and die. Second, cold conditions during planting and some wet days in June likely caused a variety of root fungal diseases to spread and kill plants. Lastly, really hot temperatures have either killed flower buds or simply prevented green tomatoes from being able to fully ripen. All of these have led to vastly decreased harvests for growers around the state. While not impacting everyone, it has hit many.
Some farmers have reached out to growers in other states to see how they help customers find tomatoes needed to preserving or making salsa.
"We've just been trying to help our customers and fill their orders by bringing in vine-ripened tomatoes," said Jake Harward, produce farmer in Springville, Utah. "It's making for smaller profit margins. Luckily other crops turned out well. We've been letting all our customers know what has happened to our crops, so they can be award. But it's always something. You're dealing with Mother Nature and farming and being out here and trying to do the best you can."
Harward and fellow Utah County farmer Chris Riley recently appeared on news programs talking about the challenges, all so consumers could be aware of the difficulty producing food this year.
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