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Washington farms struggle to protect crops from excessive heat

Berry crops are especially vulnerable to the extreme heat.

PUYALLUP, Wash — This summer’s heat wave and ongoing drought conditions have been tough on farmers around western Washington. Growers have been struggling to protect their crops, especially the more delicate varieties susceptible to summer heat like berries.

The record-setting temperatures impacted crops differently based on where they were in their growing cycle and how high the temperatures hit in their area.  

At Spooner Farms in Puyallup, they thought they might lose a significant portion of their raspberries. 

“It was super disheartening to go out to a field and you see a raspberry row, and every berry is white on one side, and you can’t do anything with it,” Samuel Spooner said.

The white dots indicate sunscald and mean the berries are ruined. They added some water to try and help the situation but it was an uphill battle, Samuel Spooner explained. 

“It was scary. It was kind of doom and gloom. I had people calling me for berries, and I didn’t know what to tell them,” he said.

They lost about 25% of their crop and said people can help support local growers by shopping at farm stands or farmers markets. 

“Try to visit them and support your local growers because they might be down, especially after this heat because they might be down 25 to 30%, you don't know,” he said.

He said they’ve noticed this trend of higher temperatures in recent years and diversified their crops to make it easier.  Fall crops like pumpkins and corn don’t mind the warm temperatures.

In the Portland area, some farmers lost close to or all of their Marionberry crops.