Local Farmers Drought

By: Jillian Risberg Email
By: Jillian Risberg Email

It may not be immediately apparent, but it's extremely dry outside. So much so, there’s officially a drought.

In fact, the fruits and vegetables are eagerly awaiting a shower. I found out how the farmers are faring.

We're under a short-term drought.

"Over the last six months or so for the year 2013 we're about four-and-a-half inches below normal for our rainfall,” says WTAP meteorologist Jonathan Kennedy. “In addition to that, we are also very low in the moisture content within our soil, which makes it particularly difficult for agriculture to get going."

Witten Farm in Lowell is watering the strawberries.

"The sweet corn down on the river bottoms is not really hurting that bad I don't believe, but if it continues it would,” says Gary Kesterson. “But just a little water on the strawberries right now helps 'em out.”

Janet Stacy is pretty lucky.

"Our strawberry season is in and out now,” says Stacy, of Stacy Family Farm in Marietta. “We've got irrigation; we’d rather put the water on than have too much, so everything's on schedule -- cauliflower and broccoli, cabbage, peaches and sweet corn."

The drought is a double edged sword.

It creates more work for farmers who have to irrigate their crops regularly, but Kennedy says those crops are also sweeter and juicer because of the lack of rain. The reason: water dilutes flavor.

Seasonal thunderstorms are helpful.

"But a lot of times this time of year we get the heavy rains in a short period of time, which doesn't allow that to really soak in,” Kennedy says. “We get a lot of runoff, which also erodes our soils even further and that can definitely pose a problem."

If Mother Nature were to provide a nice rainfall Stacy Farm would get a day off.

"Give us a little chance to relax and finish some other things, because when you do have to irrigate that's full time,” Stacy says. “We are a small family farm; there's four of us, so it takes all of us to get things done."

A good rainfall is just what everybody needs, from your backyard garden to the pastures and fields.

That means no more parched crops and the soil would be moist and nourishing.


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