WEST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — The ongoing drought and recent heat waves are taking their toll on local businesses, especially farms.
John Leyden, owner of Big John Leyden’s Tree Farm in West Greenwich, tells 12 News they normally plant 10,000 seedlings every year, but due to the drought, roughly 70% of his crop has died.
“This has been the hottest summer I can remember,” he said. “7,000 seedlings at $10 apiece, that’s $70,000 we lost.”
Leyden says it usually takes 10 to 12 years for his trees to go from seedling to on sale.
The more mature trees at the farm will be fine, according to Leyden, but the drought has stunted their growth. He said his trees normally grow a foot and a half each year, but it will probably only be 9 to 12 inches this year.
The good news, Leyden said, is that his Christmas tree customers won’t see the effects of the drought this coming winter.
“The plight of the farmer is all about time,” he added. “We will still have plenty of trees this year and next year, but it’s a matter of trying to catch up.”
Leyden said he plans to plant new seedlings later this season or early into fall, when temperatures drop and we see more rain in the forecast.