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Weather puts the squeeze on your tomatoes

For the past few years, my tomatoes have been an utter failure thanks to the cool springs and cool summers. My wife keeps saying I've lost my green thumb. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment because I've planted them again this year, and I'm starting to worry about whether they are going to ripen. My wife likes to can, so I've been hoping for a bumper crop. After two bad years, it doesn't seem like I'm due for a good crop. It seems to me that this spring has been cooler than normal. I know you guys don't have a crystal ball, but what's the weather look like as far into the future as you can see?

Jeff S., Jacksonville

We've heard lots of folks complain about their tomatoes over the past couple of years, so it's not just you, Jeff.

You've given us two basic questions. First, is it cooler this spring than normal?

We checked with the National Weather Service, which has offices near the Medford airport.

"It does seem like it's a little cooler than normal," said meteorologist Ken Sergeant.

As you know, we're not that big on feelings here at Since You Asked headquarters, so we asked Sergeant to give us the numbers.

In March, the average high temperature was 55.4 degrees compared to the normal of 59.5. The average low for March was 34.9 degrees compared to the normal of 37.1.

OK, Jeff, March is a bit cooler.

April, however, was right around normal. The average high was 64.8 compared to the normal 64.9. The average low was 43.3 and the normal, 40.8. So nights were generally a bit warmer.

May was about normal as well, Jeff. We had an average high of 74.6 degrees compared to the normal 73.3. The average low was 46.5 compared to 46.2.

All the numbers aren't in yet for June, but the overall average temperature is 63.4 degrees, which is 1.7 below normal. So, yes, June has been a bit cooler.

Now, looking into the near future Jeff, we hate to disappoint you, but it might not be the best growing weather for tomatoes after all.

Sergeant said the high temperature Sunday was a toasty 91, but today it should cool down.

We'll get a little bump back up to 90 on Thursday, but after that we're looking for a rather mild weekend in the 70s.

You're going to hate what we're going to tell you next, Jeff.

A broad, low-pressure system will be building off the Pacific next week, which should keep temperatures lower than normal.

On the plus side, at least for the Rogue Valley, the Midwest will swelter while we shiver. In case you're worried, Jeff, Sergeant said that it doesn't look like this low-pressure system has much rain in it.

Extremely long-range forecasts by the weather service's Climate Prediction Center gives this area an equal chance of being hotter or cooler than normal. While that's not much help, the prediction center shows the midsection of the country with hotter than normal temperatures.

So, Jeff, don't blame us if your tomatoes don't ripen.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com.