by KYW’s Lynne Adkins

Area farmers are scrambling to keep their crops from burning up during this hot, dry summer.

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Rainfall has been sparse as temperatures head into the 90s — or even 100s — day after day.

And that forces area farmers to turn on the irrigation system and keep it running for up to 18 hours a day, which can be quite costly.

But Douglas Fisher, New Jersey secretary of agriculture, says most farmers are watering.  And he expects crops to be plentiful:

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“It may be terrible for a particular farmer who is growing field crops, but in terms of fresh market it’s something they can deal with.  And there’s availability and quality.”

Fisher adds that the heat is causing crops to mature faster:

“We had that burst of warm weather in April that put everything about 10 days ahead, and it’s been hot and dry ever since so we’ve been picking sweet corn for about a week now when we typically don’t start until now.”

Field crops such as hay and straw are generally not irrigated and are suffering.

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Medford, NJ farmer Peter Johnson says he prefers hot, dry summers to wet ones — because you can always add water if there’s too little, but you can’t take it away if there’s too much.