Drought Parches Eastern Parts Of U.S.
In the latest “U.S. Drought Monitor” released by the USDA, water woes continue for the Eastern part of the country, with Western New York, Massachusetts, and the Southeast.
Nearly 50% of New York is in a moderate drought as of July 26, with almost 27% of the Empire state in a severe drought, including Western New York.
The Buffalo News reports the area is in the worst drought since 1943. The newspaper reports the area has experienced 60% less rainfall than average, which amounts to a 6- to 8-inch rainfall deficit, says the National Weather Service.
Western New York has experienced some rainfall as of late, but as David Church of the National Weather Service tells The News, it doesn’t move the needle much.
“We’re at the point now that if somebody picks up a quick inch from one of those heavy thunderstorms it doesn’t do much,” Church said.
Bill Zittel of Amos Zittel & Sons of Eden Valley, NY, farms lettuce, corn, and squash and says the labor behind his irrigation equipment has been costly, and he’s not sure everything will make it to harvest.
“I’m hoping we don’t have to make these hard decisions, but it may come to that point [of cutting crops],” he tells The News.
In Michigan, growers are also experiencing dry conditions in the central and western portions, with almost 62% of the state abnormally dry, and 16% in a moderate drought.
Cherry growers in Northwest Michigan tell MiBiz.com the dry conditions have been welcomed around harvest.
“The lack of water has been really good for us because we have sweet cherries (and) any rain we would have gotten would have filled them to bursting and cracked them,” Kim Overhiser, owner of Overhiser Orchards in South Haven, MI, told MiBiz.com.
Nearly 40% of Massachusetts is in a severe drought, and nearly 75% of the state is in a moderate drought. Nearly the entire state is experiencing dry conditions.
“This is probably the driest [summer] I have ever seen,” Edward Davidian, co-owner of Davidian Brothers Farm in Northboro, MA, tells WBZ-TV.
Davidian says growers who have to move irrigation equipment from site to site are forced to choose between harvesting crops that are ripe or watering those with later harvest windows.
“You are going to have some farms on the brink of collapse,” Davidian tells the TV station, “that will not be able to survive,” he says. “At this point, there is no state aid, there’s no disaster money available at this time. Farms are kind of on their own.”
Meanwhile in the southeast, nearly 20% of the region is in a moderate drought. This is causing some ponds to experience algae blooms. WSB radio reports tomato and corn crops in Georgia are the hardest hit, with peaches faring better.