P.E.I. Farmers Struggle with Dry Fields
Farmers on Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.), Canada are struggling in what they say is a very dry growing season. The Island has had a lot of hot, dry days and not much rain — in some cases, just 20% of what’s normal. CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland says spring and summer have been very dry, especially in western P.E.I.
The potato crop is struggling in some parts of the Island, as rainfall throughout the summer has been spotty across P.E.I. At Countryview Farm in Newton, where co-owner Gordon McKenna measures rainfall, he said there’s been just a fraction of what’s needed.
“We just checked the numbers there recently — we were about 80 per cent behind rainfall amounts in June. July was a tough one,” he said. “We’re just praying that August is a little gentler on us. The crops are, surprisingly, hanging on,” he said, but added “a stressed crop is not a happy one.”
The next few weeks will be crucial for potato farmers. That’s when the potatoes need the moisture to get to a decent size.
“If it stays dry through August and September, we’ll have smaller-than-average potatoes,” said Ryan Barrett, research and agronomy coordinator with the P.E.I. Potato Board. “We’ll also likely have issues with quality — so things like scab on potatoes or some other sort of physiological defects with the potatoes are more likely when it’s been dry.”
McKenna said he is seeing evidence of some of those quality issues already. Barrett said growers are really hoping to see some rain over the next couple of weeks. The forecast for the next seven days shows more hot, dry weather, said Scotland.