Yes, we have no tomatoes; produce-growers deal with drought

Parker County produce

Credit: WFAA

Natalie Mynar says she can't grow a decent tomato in the drought conditions.

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on July 19, 2011 at 5:31 PM

WEATHERFORD — The farmers market in Weatherford is known for good local produce. But the heat and drought have been merciless on some plants, like tomatoes.

"We ended up with three tomatoes off one vine before they just fried," said Helen Carrier.  She was buying fruits and veggies from market vendor Natalie Mynar, who also can't grow a decent tomato this year.

"Our tomatoes are about five feet tall," she said. "But no tomatoes... we have no tomatoes."

Mynar says her husband finally gave up on their garden. "He just mowed it over," she said. "It's like concrete almost. The plants can't absorb enough water to stay alive." 

But Mynar said local melons and squash are — somehow — thriving in the blazing sun.  

Down the road a few miles, the sun beat down on the Hutton peach farm, where Gary Hutton wonders about long-term damage if the drought continues for another month or two.

"I'd be worried about next year's crop a little bit," he said. "The stress on the trees."

Hutton said the fruit might be a bit smaller this year, and the heat makes picking miserable, but as long as his water wells hold out, Hutton expects to be OK.

But on average, farmers in 213 Texas counties have lost about one-third of their crops to drought, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

As if the heat and drought weren't enough, now  grasshoppers are causing trouble. Clouds of them come up as you walk near Hutton's trees. Some smaller trees are gnawed down to the stems. 

Experts say the drought is helping to grow a bumper crop of grasshoppers. 

Natalie Mynar is convinced that even the bees are thirstier this summer.  "I took a swig of a soda yesterday and spit it out," she said. "There was a bee on my tongue."

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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