Oklahoma Farmers Beat The Heat To Produce Crops

Sunday, August 21st 2011, 7:16 pm
By: News 9

Deanne Stein, News9.com

COYLE, Oklahoma -- No new heat record, but Oklahomans are still feeling the heat out there. It's just a nuisance for most of us, but for our farmers, it's quite a challenge.

Wayne and Connie Whitmore of Whitmore Farms in Coyle, Oklahoma, sell their produce and beef at several farmers' markets in the state. The Whitmore's have 20 acres, which they use to grow fruits and vegetables. They also raise cattle.

Whitmore said the heat has taken its toll on a lot of his crops, reducing production by 30 to 50 percent, depending on the vegetable.

"In the farming industry, it doesn't matter if you're raising wheat or cattle or what, we're always facing some type of challenge from mother nature," said Wayne Whitmore, Whitmore Farms. "The challenge just happens to be the heat this time."

Whitmore uses both drip and sprinkler irrigation which has helped to keep his plants alive. And despite the crippling effect mother nature has had on his farm, he has still been able to pick enough produce to take to the farmer's market.

"It's challenging with the heat and the elements, but it pays off when you go to the farmers' market and you have people thank you for producing it for them," said Whitmore. "You see little kids come the market and begin to understand our food does come from a farmer and it's local, so that's where the rewards are."

In Oklahoma we have farmers' markets spread across the state from Mangum to Bartlesville and Antlers to Guymon. At a farmer's market, shoppers can select from a variety of fresh vegetables, salad greens, herbs, watermelon, peaches, cantaloupe, meat products, baked goods, processed jams, jellies and salsas.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, the number of farmers' markets in Oklahoma has continued to grow over the years and more vendors are participating in both weekday and weekend markets.

"For many Oklahomans, knowing the person who produces the food that they eat is an important factor in their purchasing decisions," said Jim Reese, Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture. "Having farmers' markets available throughout the state allows people to have access to fresh, locally grown food."

Farmers' markets will continue to operate through October.

Find a Farmers' Market near you!