ACUSHNET, Mass. (WPRI) — Scott Harding, the owner of Stone Bridge Farm in Acushnet, says the rain is not keeping up with his cranberries.
“We usually need an inch of rain a week, that’s what we are shooting for,” he said.
It has not even been close to that this summer. T.F. Green Airport has only picked up 4.48 inches of rainfall from June 1 to August 12; that’s almost 4 inches below the normal of 8.35 inches for that time period.
It’s been even worse for parts of Little Compton and Portsmouth where rainfall has not even made it to 3 inches during that period.
On Thursday, there were some showers and downpours moving through the area, so it’s possible these numbers will improve a bit by the end of the week.
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And it’s not just Stone Bridge Farm or the town of Acushnet facing a lack of rain – virtually all of Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts are in the “moderate drought” category from the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Harding has experienced some dry summers, but “never this early, and never this prolonged.” To make up the difference, he’s had to irrigate from the river on his property.
However, the irrigation amount is limited because the river is running low.
“We are doing that every morning around 6 a.m. We try to get a little moisture for evaporation, help control the heat, and we are just trying to keep the vines from dying at this point,” he explained.
It’s not just Mother Nature making things tough on Stone Bridge Farm, it’s also the pandemic. Harding said he’ll unfortunately have to cancel the popular tours to his cranberry bog later this year because of COVID-19.
However, it’s not all bad news on the farm. Some of his crop is still healthy and if the weather pattern turns rainy, his cranberries could be in good shape by harvest time.