Hot, dry Maritime summer impacts region’s farmers

Shelley Steeves/Global News

The hot, dry weather this summer is having an impact on farmers across the region.

While some crops are thriving, others are drying up in the fields from a lack of water.

Read more: Maritime farmers say crops threatened by drought

Christian Michaud, whose family has been farming land in Bouctouche, N.B. for more than 60 years, says their vegetable plants have never been this starved for water.

“It is the worst I have seen and my parents have seen,” he said.

According to the Canadian Drought Monitor, parts of New Brunswick are in a severe drought. In areas too remote for irrigation, Michaud said he’s lost, in some cases, 100 per cent of his crops,

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“No beets. We planted three times and nothing ever came up,” said Michaud.

“It was just too dry.”

One of his bean fields that was supposed to be harvested in September is now a total loss, he said.

Michaud says he needs at least two or three days of steady rain to salvage other parched crops and to fill his irrigation ponds.  And while he says he does have crop insurance, it won’t cover all of his losses.

“The government is going to have to step in at some point here because it is no joke,” he said.

Michaud said in areas where he has access to proper irrigation, his crops are doing “fair.” Irrigation, however, drives up production costs, he says.

Read more: City of Moncton seeking authority allowing council to mandate people to stop non-essential water use

But there have been some crops across the Maritimes that have actually thrived amid the hot, dry weather.

In neighbouring Nova Scotia, the president of the Grape Growers Association of Nova Scotia, Steve Ells, said this year is shaping up to be one of the best for grape growing and wine production.

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“It has actually turned out to be a great growing year. Grapes need about half of the water that other crops need,” he said. .

Ells said this year’s grape crop will be harvested in late September and if the sunny, drier weather persists, it will help prevent disease and lead to the production of premium vintages for 2020

“We are hoping this continues on and that 2020 will be a good vintage great flavours and great quality and next year, when you are looking at that 2020 vintage in your liquor store or local winery, you might want to buy a few bottles and put one away,” he said.

Click to play video 'Hot weather and pandemic putting strain on Maritime farms' Hot weather and pandemic putting strain on Maritime farms
Hot weather and pandemic putting strain on Maritime farms – Aug 12, 2020

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