Local growers adapt to heat wave to save crops

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 6:38 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A lack of rain is leading local growers to bring their irrigation systems out of the shed. “We’re out pumping water. I know a lot of big farmers in the area, we are all pumping water. That’s what you’ve got to do,” Steve Hoekstra, co-owner of Hoekstra’s Sweet Corn, said.

Hoekstra said he hadn’t used his irrigation system since 2013. This year it was necessary to set up to help his sweet corn grow.

“It’s good to not have to use it, but when this is your livelihood and not just a hobby -- this is our career, right -- that’s what we’ve got to do, right. We’ve got to have systems to be able to help with situations when we are dry,” Hoekstra said.

Pumping as much water on their livelihood as they can.

“Twenty-seven thousand gallons to the acre is an inch, so you can do the math on how long it will take a 400 gallons a minute to water 12 acres of corn here,” he said.

Kyle Katsma said while the lack of rain has created some problems for plants like soybeans that can’t be irrigated, the heat has helped crops speed up their growing process.

“The heat is good. Everything is thriving now with the water we have been putting on it right now, so it’s good,” Kyle Katsma, of Hoeskstra’s Sweet Corn, said.

Hoekstra said some of their zucchinis and tomatoes are ahead of schedule.

Despite the speedy growing season, Hoekstra said each day his team still prays for rain.

”With heat has to come moisture, right? The crops that aren’t under irrigation you are going to see more stress. There is just no doubt about that. So pray for rain is about what you can do,” Hoekstra said.

Hoekstra said while it has been an unusual growing season thus far, it should not affect farmer’s markets and what it puts on tables when the season is over.

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