PARMA, Idaho — We all know this summer has been hotter than normal, but how is that impacting local farmers? Owyhee Produce in Parma says the triple-digit heat is impacting their bottom line.
"Typically we see, I think the average is about six days over 100 degrees," said Shay Myers, CEO of Owyhee Produce. "We're pushing 28 plus days over 100 degrees this year."
It’s HOT out there today. ☀️ How does that impact local produce farms? We spent the morning at @OwyheeProduce to learn how excessive heat impacts their operations and how they’re planning ahead for a potential multi-year drought. Watch @IdahoNews6 at 5 📺 pic.twitter.com/VZe4gJXtea— Karen Lehr (@KarenLehr) August 12, 2021
There are a lot of factors going into an operation like this, but weather plays a big part. Onions, for example, have a set number of growing days but during extreme heat the growing stops.
"So if we have 100 growing days, but we remove 28 days from their cycle, what you end up with are onions that are a lot smaller," said Myers.
Smaller onions mean fewer pounds of product and ultimately less profit.
"I mean we're going to have fields that, compared to last year, are going to be 40% lower," Myers said. "I think overall in the Valley, we're going to see an average that's 30% lower than our five-year average. It's massive."
Buildings at Owyhee Produce are designed to hold upwards of seven million pounds of onions and can store them safely for more than eight months. That means onions picked this summer can be sold across the country through next spring.
As this year's crops dwindle, preparations will already be well underway for the following season. With experts warning of a potential multi-year drought, Myers and his team may be forced to make tough decisions.
"That might mean that all of our onions are grown on two or three farms that do have water, and we don't grow the other seven or eight other crops that we normally would," Myers said.