Heat shrivels local crops

Heat hurting crops

WADMALAW ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Pete Ambrose has already discarded his first two corn harvests at Ambrose Family Farm, after the vegetables became scorched in the hot Carolina sun.

"It's not very sellable," Ambrose says.  "It just doesn't look nice.  It may taste good, but to the consumer who is used to seeing beautiful things in the grocery store, they don't quite understand if it doesn't look that way."

A nationwide drought has ruined the crops of thousands of farmers across the country.  In fact, the National Climatic Data Center says this is the worst drought across the country since the 1950's.

Ambrose says that by the end of the season, his 130-acre Wadmalaw Island farm could lose up to 30% of its crops, but says his losses could've been even higher.

"We've had to use a tremendous amount of irrigation water to keep our crops alive.  If we didn't have it, we probably would have lost 50% of what we grow," Ambrose says of the pond he uses to regularly irrigate the fields.

In addition, Ambrose also sprays his tomatoes with white clay -- which coats the crop and helps to keep it cooler.

But no matter what steps Ambrose takes to protect his crops, he says a farmer's business is always at the mercy of Mother Nature.

"I've seen droughts before, and they've come and gone.  This one will too," he says.