CROP CON­CERNS

July lot drier than nor­mal, me­te­o­rol­o­gist says

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - Colin.Ma­cLean@Jour­nalPioneer.com @Jour­nalPMacLean BY COLIN MA­CLEAN

The sum­mer’s hot, dry weather start­ing to worry Prince Ed­ward Is­land farm­ers

On a sunny af­ter­noon this week in Sum­mer­side, four-year-old Sum­mer Hank­in­son was tak­ing a break from the heat by play­ing with her broth­ers in the Memo­rial Park splash pad.

The kids were hav­ing a great time run­ning through the jets of water.

But while P.E.I.’s re­cent stretch of hot, dry weather has been great for play­ing out­doors — it is start­ing to worry farm­ers.

“We’re get­ting a lit­tle stressed,” said John Hogg of Klondike Farms in Wil­mot Val­ley.

“The crops are hold­ing to date … but we need some rain soon.”

En­vi­ron­ment Canada me­te­o­rol­o­gist Bob Ro­bichaud did not have up-to-date pre­cip­i­ta­tion in­for­ma­tion for the Sum­mer­side area where Hogg farms, but he did for Char­lot­te­town.

“June was a lit­tle drier than nor­mal, but so far in July it’s a lot drier than nor­mal,” he said.

The cap­i­tal city has re­ceived 20.4 mm of pre­cip­i­ta­tion so far in July. The av­er­age for the month is around 80 mm.

At this point, he said, it’s un­likely we will hit the monthly av­er­age.

His pro­jec­tions showed a chance of some rain next week but noth­ing like farm­ers are hop­ing for.

“Even if we do get a sig­nif­i­cant dump­ing of rain, if it all comes at once and it runs off, it doesn’t re­ally re­solve the is­sues that the farm­ers have,” he added.

Greg Don­ald, gen­eral man­ager of the P.E.I. Potato Board, said most of the prov­ince’s potato crop is just start­ing to en­ter an im­por­tant phase of its growth cy­cle, when it starts to bulk up its tu­bers. A lack of mois­ture could mean a re­duced yield.

“They’re wear­ing out their weather apps look­ing to see when it’s go­ing to rain. I’ve no­ticed as the days go by, the con­cern has been in­creas­ing,” he said.

How­ever, Don­ald also said other fac­tors that usu­ally im­pact the crop, like pest preva­lence, have been good this year. So if there is rain in the near fu­ture, there is still a chance yields will be good.

The same is true for other Is­land crops like berries and grains, added Robert God­frey, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the P.E.I. Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture.

The next few weeks could mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween a good and bad over­all year for farm­ers.

“We’re cer­tainly not at a crit­i­cal stage yet, but we’re creep­ing up there,” he said.

“They’re wear­ing out their weather apps look­ing to see when it’s go­ing to rain. I’ve no­ticed as the days go by, the con­cern has been in­creas­ing.” Greg Don­ald

FILE PHOTO

Greg Don­ald

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