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Farmers markets seeing more customers, but less produce due to heat and drought

Some crops have been hit hard by this heat and drought, but others are thriving.

MINNEAPOLIS — Life as a farmer is like an endless battle against weather, a battle Shur Yang is all too familiar with.

“My grandparents were farmers and so I’ve been around it mostly my whole life,” Yang explains.

He’s a 3rd generation farmer based out of Baldwin Wisconsin.

Over the years he has seen a lot of ups and downs in the weather, but this year definitely stands out as one of the more difficult years for farmers.

"I finally got the radishes in. It took forever to get them in,” Yang explains.

“I’m kind of known for my radishes. I’m the radish guy here, and so it’s nice to finally have them.”

He says radishes, and nearly everything else at the market, is two to four weeks behind schedule this year.

Nearly everything is struggling in this heat, but he says the leafy items like mustard and bok choy have been hit the hardest.

Local farmer Margaret Pflaum says water has also been a big issue.

With little rain, many farmers have had to spend several hours a day watering their crops, which is extra time in the field and an extra cost.

"You know, inflation is up, what hasn't gone up? We’re like everybody else. We’ve gotta survive too,” Pflaum says.

She says some produce may be more expensive this year and there won't be as much of it at the market.

"I think customers will find pretty much what they want at the farmers market but there just might not be the quantity that they’re used to seeing,” Pflaum says.

Pflaum and Yang are two of the more than 170 farmers who sell their produce at the Minneapolis Farmers Market every week.

Assistant Market Manager Sina Pleggenkuhle says the good news is that customers are now coming back with the pandemic winding down, so farmers are getting a lot of support right now.

“This season has just been booming,” Pleggenkuhle says. “It’s been really busy lately, which is great to see.”

And while some herbs and vegetables are getting pounded by the heat and drought, others are doing better than ever.

"Tomatoes are doing good,” Pleggenkuhle says.

“Peppers also like the heat."

Pleggenkuhle says most vine-ripening vegetables thrive in this heat.

As long as farmers give them enough water, these types of vegetables should be easy to come by this year.

Yang says the peak season for tomatoes will likely happen in late August and the season will be very short.

“You’re going to see everything come on at once, it’s going to be a big rush,” Yang says.

But then again, he says late August is a full month away, and as we’ve said before, the weather can change in a heartbeat.

“Who knows if that will be true a month from now,” Yang laughs. “You just never know what’s going to happen.”

Some other good news is farmers say the heat is also having a big impact on flavor.

Some vegetables like radishes, onions and carrots will taste better this year because the plants are working harder to find water and they will absorb more nutrients from the ground.

Check out what foods are in season in Minnesota here.

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