Hamilton's farmer's market go-ers should see a rainbow of vegetables appearing soon — red peppers, green beans, yellow corn.
But not if the region doesn't get rain.
Local farmers say without a few downpours, this year's vegetable crop will be delayed and the season will be cut short.
“It's very dry right now, not a lot of rain,” said Gord Williams, who owns Williams Brothers farm in Waterdown. “It's going to start affecting vegetables soon because stuff will start shriveling up.”
And It looks like rain won't come in time to save the day. Dave Phillips of Environment Canada says there's no rain expected for the next week. He says, “in the last month, it’s been like a thimble-ful of rain that’s fallen in the Hamilton and Niagara area.”
Williams' fruit crop, like most local growers, was devastated by a bout of warm weather in March. He said his apple yield was only 10 per cent of what he normally can produce, and now his pears look like they aren't going to fare much better.
“This kind of thing has never happened before,” he said.
Cheryl Berry, who operates Fleetwood Farms in Harley with her family, said the same thing. Even her grandfather, who ran the farm before she did, said he couldn't remember a crop devastation as bad as this one.
Berry also yielded about 10 per cent of her apples, and as for her vegetables: “It'll be just behind. A lot slower,” she said.
Ontario minister of agriculture, foods and rural affairs Ted McMeekin is expected to meet with federal agricultural minister Gary Ritz Friday in Toronto. Together, they plan to come up with a disaster relief plan for all Ontario farmers in need, said OMAFRA spokesperson Mark Cripps.
Officials from the ministry have visited farmers all across the usually fertile food growing regional and have also discovered that unless rain comes soon home grown vegetables will be harder to find for people who want to eat well and eat local.
Field crops, such as corn and soybeans, are showing signs of stress. Corn will be pollinating in the next couple of weeks. If the plant is stressed 10 days before pollination or during pollination, it will impact the yield.
Cripps said the Hamilton and Niagara regions tend to have a heavier clay soil, which is less forgiving when its dry.
Williams said he's not sure how much money a poor growing season might cost him. It won't show, he says, until long after all the fruits and vegetables are harvested.
“It'll be next winter when I don't have enough fruit to sell,” he said.