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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • The drought of summer 2011

  • This has been one of the hottest and driest summers I can remember in my lifetime.


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  • I am asked many plant questions.
    Vegetables, trees and turf are common topics of these questions. I am even asked about the weather.
    “Hey Scott, what’s the weather going to be like this summer? When will it rain again?  How hot is it going to be?”
    I don’t know the answers to these questions, I just know it is hot!
    This has been one of the hottest and driest summers I can remember in my lifetime.
    In visiting with some of the folks around that have a few more years on them than me, I have learned that this is the case for many of them, as well.
    It’s hot and dry!  I don’t know when it will cool down again!  September?  When will it rain again?  November?  I don’t know!  Some things are going to burn up. Some things are going to need to be replanted. The summer of 2011 is a beast!
    I remember how hot 1980 was, but I was young. We had a water cooler to cool the house, and I remember just sitting 12 inches from it trying to cool off after playing outside.
    Here are a few things to remember about plants and heat:
    Tomatoes like 85 degrees much better than 105 degrees.  
    Tomato leaves will curl up in high heat and wind.
    Temperatures above 95 degrees during the day and 75 degrees at night with hot, dry winds will cause a lack of fruit set.
    Tall fescue is a cool season grass that prefers 70 degrees.
    Tall fescue does not thrive at 105 degrees.
    Browning is normal for fescue lawns and other cool season grasses when we are experiencing extreme heat.
    Spider mites tend to like hot, dry conditions as they suck juices from your tomato plants.
    Plants lose moisture faster through leaves when it is hot and can’t replace this moisture from its root system fast enough to prevent drying, thus leaf margins get scorched and dried.
    Plants do not grow as much in extreme heat.
    Tomatoes may not turn color in extreme heat.
    Less pollination and fruit drop can occur in extreme heat.
    Wind compounds the effects of high temperatures by increasing the potential for leaf scorch.
    Evergreen trees can scorch as well as deciduous trees.
    Containerized plants dry out much faster in high heat.
    Leaves can fall off trees in extreme heat.
    I watered my Bermudagrass lawn for the first time in 6 years on July 17.
    As we tend to our landscapes and gardens remember to take care of yourself as well. Drink plenty of fluids, wear a hat, and try to garden in the cooler times of the day.
    Page 2 of 2 - Scott Eckert is Harvey County Extension agent, horticulture.
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