Seekonk farm says current drought has impacted its crops

SE Mass

SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) ─ The area has seen extreme drought conditions persist since the spring and many local farmers have had to adjust to the worsening conditions.

As many customers begin to partake in fall activities such as apple and pumpkin picking, 12 News took a deeper look into just how the drought has impacted these crops.

Chris Clegg, one of the owners of Four Town Farm in Seekonk, says the lack of rain has impacted not only their crops, but also their business.

“We keep track of the rainfall here at the farm, and our last significant rainfall was June 11, so we haven’t had anything over 4/10th’s of an inch of rain since that time here at this location.” Clegg said.

Four Town Farm sits very close to the bay, so more often than not the body of salt water suppresses any summertime thunderstorms that move in from the north and west.

The cooler waters can help create a marine layer in the atmosphere and this stabilizes the atmosphere prohibiting thunderstorm development or allows for weakening of stronger storms.

The result of this creates less rainfall for the region.

“We’ve had to budget and manage water all season,” Clegg said. “Mid-summer when the whole farm is in production, water requirements are at the maximum and water supply is at a minimum. It forced us to budget where that water went that we had. So crops that we would have liked to irrigated, we couldn’t in order to preserve those that we were counting on.”

“Pumpkins didn’t get impacted all that much in a negative way because the pumpkins get seeded in late spring and early Summer, so they’re really small when everyone’s fighting for water and as we got into mid to late August, more water became available to irrigate the pumpkins,” he added.

Clegg said business has definitely increased with many customers purchasing locally-grown produce and to pick pumpkins.

Four Town Farm supplies many local restaurants as well, and with many closing, Clegg said residents who would normally go to those restaurants now find themselves shopping at their market.

“It was much more of a battle in the summer as it was to the fall crops,” Clegg said on the lack of rainfall. “The benefit to such dry conditions is that there was minimal disease. So where we expect to lose a certain percentage every year to one disease or another. We almost had zero loss this year because there was no rain to affect the whole disease cycle.”

The lack of rainfall wasn’t all that bad though, as Clegg said there was a significant decrease in loss of crops.

“From the pumpkin standpoint, very few are getting left in the field,” he said. “Same thing with tomatoes, peppers…a lot of those crops that like it hot and dry flourished. Those crops that like cool and wet conditions such as carrots, broccoli…they struggled a bit.”

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