NS farmers hoping for rain after July drought
By The Canadian Press
By The Canadian Press
July 30, 2012, Kentville, NS – Farmers in Nova Scotia say they’re hoping that some much needed rain will lessen the drought conditions through much of July.
Hot and unusually dry weather has been taking its toll on this year’s crops.
Richard Melvin, a farmer in Kings County, says having so little rain is comparable to a large business that has its electricity cut off for weeks.
He says the ideal would be 25 to 50 millimetres of rain every week.
But the month of July saw only about 20 per cent of its normal rainfall.
As of July 29, rainfall totalled less than 20 millimetres in Kentville.
The average rainfall for the month is 93 millimetres.
The dry weather came after an unusually dry spring.
The month of April saw roughly half its normal rainfall and only one-quarter the normal amount of rain fell in May.
“Farmers with irrigation capability are faring quite well,” said Viliam Zvalo, a horticultural specialist with Perennia, an agricultural consulting group with offices in Kentville and Truro.
“The ones without that ability are really struggling.”
Even farmers with irrigation equipment are running into water shortage problems as ponds and streams aren’t replenished.
The provincial Environment Department warned the public last week that wells are drying up and to be prepared for water shortages in some areas.
Last week, Josh Oulton, owner of TapRoot Farms, a community shared farm near Port Williams, warned his customers that less food will be available this summer because of the dry conditions.
The crops most affected are the short-season vegetables that are being harvested now or are close to being harvested because they don’t have sufficient water or time to bulk up.
They include cold crops – cauliflower, broccoli and lettuce – as well as carrots, potatoes, peas and onions.
Melons are much smaller than usual and pumpkins and squash are at their crucial stage of fruit set.
Even apple farmers are feeling the pinch. Mature trees cope well in dry conditions because they are deep-rooted. But young, newly planted trees are under considerable stress, said John Eisses, a Kings County apple grower and president of the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association.