Rain needed for farmers

Pictou-Advocate-opinion

It has been plenty warm with little rain this summer.

People being people, we will bemoan the least bit of rain that intrudes on summer activities.

The short deluge on Sunday and the rain on Tuesday represents about the first real rain this summer.

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One can recall a morning shower perfectly timed for the annual Canada Day parade in Westville and rain on the morning of July 8 that dampened some outdoor events during the annual Pictou Lobster Carnival. Otherwise, July and early August have been warm and the ground and plants are dry from a lack of rain.

The recent rainfall could grant farmers and other residents a reprieve. The added worry is that too much rain will prevent easy harvests into the fall.

There are disturbing trends. We in Pictou County and Nova Scotia are getting the hotter, drier summers reflected by the science of the day. There have been some exceptions this year for communities along the Atlantic coastline.

The sun and heat are welcome for recreational activities, but generally the consequences are dire.

For one thing, forests are tinder dry. They were for much of the spring, so it’s miraculous no forest fires of any kind have occurred locally and the few reported in New Brunswick appear to be under control.

Also, those with livestock and who grow produce are being affected. Lack of moisture in some instances has resulted in lack of hay to cut. That means farmers are dipping into feed stocks designated for winter to compensate. Some crops can endure dry, hot weather better than others. Corn needs heat and has achieved normal height and tassle development in some areas. But brown and curled leaves shows how the corn has had to adapt to dryness. Corn is more able to utilize what rain does fall.

Many crops are not so able. Produce size is not where it could be despite the heat units, due to the lack of rain. Harvesting may be delayed until the vegetables and fruits reach a marketable size.

Water tables have declined. Rivers and streams are low. That causes water temperatures to rise and imposes challenges on aquatic life.

Most concerning is that we’re experiencing this dry summer after a similar one last year.

There are things we can do. We can stop watering lawns. We can stop cutting the grass as short or as often. It will survive if left on its own. We can save the water for the plant life that counts.

People need to know that this will be the norm for the foreseeable future.

It is one thing to fear the future. It is quite another to understand it.