Nova Scotia

Lack of rain threatening crops, say N.S. farmers

Fruit and vegetable growers in the Annapolis Valley say the hot and dry weather is threatening their crops.

Fruit and vegetable growers in the Annapolis Valley say the hot and dry weather is threatening their crops.

"This is a really critical time for the crops. All the potatoes and carrots and onions and even with the strawberries, this is the time that they bulk up," said Lisa Jenereaux, an orchard manager at Spurr Brothers Farms in Kingston.

"If they don't have the water, we can't get the yields off the fields that we need."

Staff at Spurr Brothers Farms have been irrigating more than 320 hectares of fruits and vegetables with machines for the last month. Jenereaux said streams and ponds used to feed the irrigations lines are also running low.

"We got on the land really early - one of the earliest seasons that we've ever had. That was a great start for us and that means we get on the market earlier, which means usually a bit better price," she said.

"But if we don't get the rain now, then all that time that we got in early is really all for nothing if we can't get the water that we need to get the crops off."

In the Halifax Regional Municipality, one driller said it's been a busy season with requests to drill old wells deeper into the ground.

Byron Jacobs, who works with Bluenose Well Drilling Ltd., said dug wells have already gone dry in some places.

"I've been doing this work for 22 years. This is probably one of the driest summers that we've seen," he told CBC News on Wednesday.

"Very little rain in the spring, no snow in the winter and we're going to be into it this year, for sure."

High to extreme fire index

Meanwhile, the provincial Department of Natural Resources is warning people to be extremely cautious in the woods.

"We suggest that anyone be very careful with anything that could cause an ignition. If you're smoking, make sure that's out. Make sure that your ATV is not parked with a hot muffler in high grass," said Jim Rudderham, a supervisor of wildlife management at the Department of Natural Resources.

"Don't light any fires and be very careful."

During the fire season, the department has a fire weather index that indicates the potential level of wildfire intensity, should one break out. The index is updated daily.

As of 9 p.m. AT on Wednesday, the entire province was rated high with three regions in the extreme category: part of the Annapolis Valley, the western half of Cape Breton and part of Cumberland County.

Shannon MacDougall, of Port Hood, said she can see evidence of the hot, dry weather all around her with browning lawns and gardens that need constant watering.

"I know that everyone is being extremely cautious. It's certainly on everybody's minds," she said.

"You're not seeing the campfires around the area the way that you would in past summers because of the lack of rain."