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Dry Spring Weather Poses Challenge to Local Farmers

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MONTAGUE, Mass. (WGGB) —  The warm temperatures and lack of rain have had many of us enjoying the outdoors, but the dry conditions can be a problem for many trying to put fresh produce on our tables.

So far, this spring we are about six and a half inches short on rainfall and while soil moisture in early spring tends to be good because of melting snow, the last week has been a challenge for local farmers.

At Red Fire Farm, they are planting seeds into the top half-inch to inch of soil – soil which these days looks more like dust.

“Even if there’s soil moisture down further, in order to get those seeds to germinate at the surface, if we don’t get a rainstorm we have to overhead irrigate just to get things to even start growing,” explains Ryan Voiland, co-owner of Red Fire Farm.

And overhead irrigation is no small task. In fact, it may end up effecting your produce bill.

“We need to have about 3 people per day just working on moving the pipe from section to section. You know you move it, set it up on one section you run it for 4 to 5 hours. Then you turn off the pump, break down the pipe, move it to the next section,” says Voiland.

While early spring drought conditions, like the ones we’ve been experiencing can be a nuisance to farmers. Voiland says they are even more painful in the mid summer.

“The plants are bigger and they need more water in order to stay healthy and also by that time in the year we have more of the acreage actually planted.”

Even for home gardeners, Voiland says a simple watering from a garden hose will not provide enough moisture for plants. He recommends setting up a sprinkler over plants and letting it run for 4 to 5 hours to ensure proper watering.

Voiland also says that he’s confident that this dry spell will not adversely effect local produce and encourages everyone to shop at their local farm stands and farmers markets.


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