Ad Spot

Plants in Mississippi thrive in the heat ‘up to a point’

I was a full-grown young adult when I first lived where cotton was grown. Cotton wasn’t part of my job at the time, but it definitely led the way for the local economy in that area, and I don’t recall if there was a second place. So I got to hear a lot of cotton talk.

One thing I heard quite a bit back then was that the hotter it gets the better cotton likes it. As with so many things, that was not exactly true. A needed addition to make the hot weather claim valid would have been “up to a point.”

Many of our food and ornamental plants in Mississippi are hot weather lovers or at least hot weather tolerant. That’s why we grow them. But with the warmest weather of the year soon to be upon us, bear in mind extremes in heat are not good for plants.

Most biological processes speed up as temperatures increase — again, up to a point.

In plants, increased energy produced by sped up photosynthesis brings about faster growth and reproduction. Whether it’s the blooms of zinnias or the fruit of tomato plants, the reproductive stages are why we plant them in the first place.

We say plants “inhale” carbon dioxide from the air for use in photosynthesis. Just as necessary is the process of transpiration, which is essentially water loss through leaves, stems and flowers.

In addition to pulling most everything up through plants as liquids, transpiration is the cooling mechanism for plants when it’s hot.

Sometimes the air temperature gets so hot a plant’s transpiration rate is no longer in sync with its photosynthesis rate. That’s when plants begin wilting and losing ground, even the heat-loving ones.

One university agronomist taught us the problem of nights too hot was worse than daytime heat. He said that’s when a cotton plant had to use too much energy running its air conditioner. Nice way to say “overworked transpiration rate,” don’t you think?

Another heat problem for plants is the sterilization of pollen. Plants differ by species as to what is the pollen-killing temperature. For example, corn pollen is not tolerant of extreme heat. Farmers around here like to plant corn in March and be done by mid-April while those in more northern states are content with May and early June planting. It’s all a matter of high-temperature risks.

By the way, every kernel of corn represents a single embryo attached to a single silk and through which a grain of pollen fallen from the tassel above moved for pollination. Corn planted abnormally late often produces ears with missing kernels because some pollen was killed by heat.

Tomato is an interesting vegetable as for heat tolerance.

During most of our summers, we see a decline in tomatoes “setting fruit” during hot spells because of pollen sterilization. But if we help the plants survive drought, stinkbugs and late blight fungi, the plants will often go back to making tomatoes right on up until frost.

 

Terry Rector writes for the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District. 

News

Updates: Porter’s Chapel Academy on the road against Benton Academy

BREAKING NEWS

New state flag designs narrowed to the final nine

Local

Construction still active but schools ready for students

Crime

Crime reports: Edwards man arrested for drugs, eluding

News

Vicksburg Catholic Schools are ready for Monday’s first day of school

Local

House bill calls for removing Confederate monuments from national parks

Local

Blood drive scheduled to help Vicksburg girl battling cancer

Local

Mayor proposes possible millage rate increase for capital improvements

Downtown Vicksburg

Vicksburg Theatre Guild set to perform ‘The Sound of Music’

News

Judge says selection of jurors moving to video-conferencing

Crime

Man charged with murder of Tallulah woman, admits to earlier arson

Local

Dr. Gene Walker, the doctor who delivered many in Vicksburg, dies

Crime

Tallulah man admits to arson after being arrested for murder

Crime

Vicksburg man held without bond following arrest for auto theft

News

Suspect arrested, charged in the murder of a Tallulah woman

Crime

Woman in custody following early morning assault on her father

Crime

Crime reports: Vicksburg man arrested for auto theft

Education

Troopers implement Operation S.T.O.P. campaign

Business

Federal COVID-19 funds to help expand broadband access in Central Mississippi

Local

Lawsuit seeks clarity on Mississippi voting amid COVID-19

Local

Today’s the deadline: Vicksburg Living wants to feature you and your pets

COVID-19

Cooperate with contact tracing inquiries

Local

City moves ahead with plans to construct pickleball courts

Crime

Police charge second man in Best Western shooting