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Atlantic farmers welcome dry weather

August 22, 2008  By The Canadian Press

August 22, 2008, Halifax, NS – Things are looking up for Maritime farmers who have been plagued by too much rain.

August 22, 2008, Halifax, N.S. – Things are looking up for Maritime farmers who have been plagued by too much rain.

Heavy downpours in early August left the region’s farmers scrambled to save certain crops from a soggy demise.


But Environment Canada says the next two weeks should bring better weather to the region.

Meteorologist Bob Robichaud said a low-pressure system that’s been hanging around for much of August is showing signs of changing.

“The second half of August should be better than the first,” he said in an interview from the weather centre in nearby Dartmouth.

Joe King, produce manager at Eyking Brothers farm in Millville, N.S., said the dry weather in Cape Breton this week has been a bonus.

“As long as the rain stays away, we should be all right,” he said. “We’ll persevere and stay at it.”

King said the rain earlier this month damaged 45 hectares of lettuce.

“What we’ve lost in lettuce we can’t get back,” he said. “Now I’ve got about 16 acres of it out there.”

King, who also grows turnips, cabbage and cauliflower, estimated that the damage to his crops will cost him about $350,000 in lost income.

“That’s just one farm,” said King, whose farm is part of the Bras d’Or Producers Co-operative. “There’s five farms in this area and we’re all affected.”

Representatives from Nova Scotia’s Agriculture Department toured the Millville area last week. A spokeswoman said the department is determining what programs can assist farmers in the region.

Robichaud said Sydney area of Cape Breton has seen about 155 millimetres of rain this August. That’s four times the average amount.

Halifax has seen close to 200 millimetres so far this month – again, almost four times the usual amount.

Meanwhile, the Edmundston area of northern New Brunswick has received about 100 millimetres more than the typical average.

Jean Marie Pelletier, chairman of Potatoes New Brunswick, said storms and flooding in the northern region left some potato fields submerged.

“It’s just killed,” said Pelletier. “They are a total loss, those fields.”

Pelletier said the rain also caused a few cases of late blight, a disease that shows up after too much rain.

“We need to spray more fungicides, so it adds to the cost of production.”

Chip Hunter operates a farm with his brother in what he calls the “potato belt” of New Brunswick, near the St. John River valley.

“It’s a big concern and the fields are not looking good,” said Hunter, who also grows sweet corn and other produce. “We’re certainly concerned about what effect the weather’s going to have … It might be too late, I don’t know.”

However, the rain hasn’t been bad news for every grower in the region.

Jamie Morrison of the New Brunswick Blueberry Agency said the rain has helped the province’s berry crop.

“The rain isn’t detrimental because it’s plumped up the berries,” said Morrison. “The season’s looking good.”

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