The hatch chiles are coming! Although a little late this year, and possibly at a higher price. The heat and drought that continue to plague the region have significantly affected the crop of chiles so popular in Tex-Mex cooking and at festivals around Dallas.
The lack of rain has caused many farmers who prefer river-fed irrigation systems to switch to on-site wells. If your well runs strong, you've got no problem. Just ask Ty Wolosin of Windy Hill Organics in Comanche. His well has kept his operation running smoothly, and he continues to supply tomatoes and other produce to Austin and Dallas area restaurants.
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In and around Hatch, New Mexico, though, things are a little different.
The wells at Young Guns Produce yield a saline water that plants don't love. The salt coupled with the heat is not only preventing the plants from thriving as they might, but it's also causing the fruit to set later.
Cindy Sment, the controller for Young Guns, tells me they normally start their harvest around June 20. This year they've only just started picking peppers, almost two weeks late. Yields are lower too. Some plots thrive due to varying conditions from field to field, but others look like they'll be unharvestable. According to Cindy, many farms are feeling the heat. The crops "just don't thrive like they would normally," she tells me. "Everything. Alfalfa, cotton, onions, all of it is slow."
It will be a few weeks before area farms can really quantify the effect on their final yield, but the delay is affecting area chile festivals. The Blue Mesa grill, which has celebrated the chili annually for the past 15 years, had to postpone their party. Other Dallas area events like Central Market's and Prairie Parks and Recreation's may not be affected later in August, although with heat like this, you never know.