CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Lowcountry farmers are working through the high temperatures and hoping the impacts don’t cost them.
At Rosebank Farms on Johns Island, owner Sidi Limehouse says so far, the problems aren’t detrimental but depending on what August brings, more issues could arise.
“High 80s are fine, but when you get into the 90s, 95s, that affects all the vegetables. It cuts down on the volume, some things on the quality,” said Limehouse.
Squash and sweet corn are two crops being impacted at Rosebank Farms.
A late planting of sweet corn on a few of the 100 acres of the farm isn’t expected to yield but a third of what was planted.
Limehouse says that’s partially due to low wind, which helps populate the corn, as well as heat. More specifically, a lack of pollination because of high temperatures.
“You get over 90 degrees and sweet corn and field corn just doesn’t pollinate,” he said. “We rely on about 20 hives and they don’t like the heat either. So what they’ll do is stay in their hives and fan it just to keep the young ones cool. That does affect some of the squash.”
Rosebank Farms doesn’t have an irrigation system so they rely on rain and knowledge of the land. That’s where Limehouse’s six decades of experience farming the land comes in.
There is high and low land on the farm, that Limehouse and his team strategically plant depending on a crop’s ability to handle a dryer environment.
“We plant watermelons and stuff on the high land, but things like okra, peppers, and tomatoes, we select low land and so far it’s worked out fine for us.”
If the heat wasn’t enough of a problem facing farmers, they are also feeling major impacts from inflation. The price of fertilizer has skyrocketed.
“Last year it was 600 dollars a ton, this year it’s 1200,” said Limehouse.
On top of that, the price of fuel is also cutting into profits. Rosebank Farms has a farm stand several miles away from the farm itself where fresh fruits and vegetables are sold. Limehouse says they also participate in local farmers’ markets as well as one in Columbia and use machinery to plant and harvest.
When asked how Rosebank handles the rising costs, Limehouse says the farm incurs it.
Despite the seemingly stressful impacts of heat and inflation, Limehouse says he’s hopeful for cooler temperatures and cheaper materials soon but for now, the show must go on.
“We just go with the flow.”