Crops ripen quickly with sudden summer heat : 'They just burned up'

JUNCTION CITY, Ore. -- The sudden onset of summer heat made for an abrupt end to strawberry season, and some farmers fear a quick season for their other crops.

Thistledown Farms Owner Randy Henderson said this heat hit Oregon earlier than expected, and it's making it hard for farmers to stop their crops from ripening quickly.

"These hot temperatures are pretty unseasonable and we got to deal with it. The biggest challenge is keeping things wet enough," Henderson said.

If the heat continues, Thistledown Farms said they will have to pick their berries sooner than expected.

"We have some strawberries that will go to waste because they just burned up, they dehydrate 'til they look so bad no one will buy them," said Henderson.

Ross Penhallegon with the OSU Extension Service said there are other consequences associated with waiting to pick crops.

"As crops ripen, particularly the end of strawberry, raspberry crops, and blueberries are coming on, southwest facing blueberries are going to start seeing sunburns it's too hot," Penhallegon said, adding, "The humidity is causing normal diseases in crops that don't affect us just going to affect the quality of the crop."

Henderson said those growing berries at home can better preserve their crop by putting their picked, ripe foods in the freezer.