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Extreme Heat Not So Bad for Some Farms

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CENTRAL POINT, Ore. – Jim Davidian’s vineyard bakes under the hot sun. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We’re going to have some luscious, fully-flavored grapes, and we’re going to make some really good wine,” said Davidian.

Many wish for a break from the harsh heat, but not him. For his winery, Caprice, this season is shaping up to be a breeze. The heat came early and came on strong, and that will pay off in the end.

“If all keeps going the way it has been we should be picking in the middle of October,” said Davidian. “Last year we picked into very early November.”

And it isn’t just the growing season. Unlike a lot of other crops, certain types of wine grapes actually thrive in hot, dry temperatures. If there’s too much rain and too much nutrient in the soil, a lot of that goes straight to the leaves. Once it becomes dense, it sucks up energy that would otherwise go to the fruit.

And Davidian isn’t the only one celebrating the sun. At the Jacksonville Farmer’s Market, Hanley Farm sells produce from its two-acre, no-till field.

“We use a lot of mulching. Heavy organic matter with woodchips, straw, stuff like that,” said Kurt Holmes, who works the no-till field at Hanley Farm. And we get a nice big thick layer over the beds so that the soil’s nice and covered up.

Whereas a normal farm might dry up, their soil acts like a sponge. Lots of rays and not too dry – something many of their vegetables, particularly the tomatoes and peppers, tend to love.

“The plants really like the sun,” said Holmes. “They can produce lots of sugar and photosynthesize, but they still have a nice moisture underneath their roots.”

They say triple digits is a bit high, but it would take a lot more of it to make a real dent.

“As long as we can keep the mulch moist, the plants can pretty much take care of it,” said Holmes.