July lot drier than normal, meteorologist says
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