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Hot, Dry Summer Speeds up Season at Local Farmstands

Long Island Farm Bureau says it's still too early to assess the damage done by the heat.

This summer's waves of hot, dry weather have accelerated the growth of local crops on Long Island, resulting in strawberries, corn, tomatoes and other produce hitting the shelves ahead of schedule, according to local farmstands.

"I haven't had a problem getting stuff in, but everything's early because of the heat," said Mary Anne Deriso at Ann Marie's Farm Stand in Setauket. "The corn's been fine. The tomatoes are great."

Down the road at Detmer Farms, manager Juan Pantaleon said everything has been ripening sooner, too.

"They don't last too long," Pantaleon said of the fruits and vegetables he's seen come into the store.

Typically, a dry summer season is a boon to local growers, according to Bob Carpenter of the Calverton-based Long Island Farm Bureau. That's because farmers can exercise better control over how much water the crops receive, he said. The heat, though, is a different story.

"The heat has done some damage, but for the most part, it's still a little too early before the final results are in," Carpenter said. "We still have another month or two of the growing season."

Pantaleon said he has seen a drop in business on hotter days.

"People don't want to come out to farmstands," he said. "They would rather go to supermarkets."

Locally grown flowers are also suffering.

"We've been having complaints," Pantaleon said. "People are coming back and saying the flowers are dying."

The produce may be early and the flowers may be dying sooner, but Carpenter said the weather hasn't affected the actual demand for locally grown goods.

"The local farmstands are still doing pretty well, holding their own," Carpenter said. "There's still a strong demand for local product. That's a good thing, because that keeps farmers growing and keeps agriculture alive on Long Island."

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