Top News

P.E.I. farmers in desperate need of significant rain soon

David Mol, who has 1,200 acres of wheat, barley, rye, flax, buckwheat and peas in Winsloe, said the ground is so dry that it just crumbles in his hands when he picks it up when “it should ball up’’. Island farmers aren’t pushing the panic button yet, but they say they are in desperate need of significant rain soon.
David Mol, who has 1,200 acres of wheat, barley, rye, flax, buckwheat and peas in Winsloe, said the ground is so dry that it just crumbles in his hands when he picks it up when “it should ball up’’. Island farmers aren’t pushing the panic button yet, but they say they are in desperate need of significant rain soon. - Dave Stewart

The P.E.I. farming community says if it doesn’t get some significant rain soon things will reach the crisis point.

Prior to the showers that fell in the Charlottetown area on Thursday, only 13 millimetres of precipitation has fallen in July, well below the normal 80 millimetres.

“We’re not at a critical-push-the-panic-button-point quite yet, but we’re certainly approaching that,’’ said Robert Godfrey, executive director of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture. “We need rain. Looking at the sky (Thursday), they’re calling for two to four millimetres, but we need a lot more than that. We need a steady, consistent amount of rain right now.’’

Making things worse than the hot, dry muggy weather is the wind. Not only is the ground so dry that it’s creating clouds of dust, but the wind this week has been drying plants out.

“You think of cattle in barns. Milk production is down with the heat of this magnitude. Meat production would be down as well.’’

Godfrey said Island farmers need at least an inch of rain – and they need it soon.

“We’re at a point where potatoes are starting to size up . . . , so we really need some rain.’’

Rainfall totals as of July 25

  • June 2017 – 85 millimetres
  • July 2017 – 69 millimetres
  • June 2018 – 152 millimetres
  • July 2018 (so far) – 13 millimetres

David Mol, who owns Meadowbrook Farm in Winsloe, said those who have irrigation capabilities are using them.

“I don’t want to use the D (desperation) word here, but . . . we’re short moisture,’’ Mol said Thursday. “I think we went into this period of time with some pretty good reserves (June was a wet month), but the drying with the wind is what is really taking a toll right now. Certain crops are going to be affected worse than others.’’

Mol said a wet June helped as did some exceptionally heavy dews.

“Problem is, the precipitation the last number of years has been spotty. Up west may get (rain) and down east won’t. Charlottetown gets it, and Kinlock doesn’t.’’

Related: Home Hardware in Charlottetown says demand for air conditioners outweighs supply

Greg Donald, general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board, said some areas of the province received half an inch of rain on Thursday while others didn’t get anything.

“It’s a concern and it’s getting bigger every day we don’t get rain,’’ Donald said. “We need a good day or two of good, overcast, wet weather to catch up.’’

Donald said if farmers get some decent rain in the next week things should be OK. He added that potato plants are just at the stage now where they need decent moisture.

“(If) we get through this period and get some rain there’s a good chance we’ll be OK, but it’s starting to get pretty concerning, I’ll put it that way.’’

Cindy Day, meteorologist with SaltWire Network, said the irony is P.E.I. has received more rain in June and July this year compared to June and July of 2017 — 165 millimetres this year compared to 154 millimetres last year.

Day said even if the province were to get hit with a downpour it wouldn’t make that much of a difference.

“To be solely in the month with only 13 millimetres of rain, even if we get 60 on Saturday that is runoff and is not doing what 60 millimetres for the month would accomplish,’’ Day said.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Recent Stories