Nova Scotia

Scorching temperatures forcing Nova Scotia farmers to change their hours

The recent hot weather in Nova Scotia is forcing farmers to change how they go about their work.

'It's extremely hot to try and do any physical work,' says farmer John Bruce

Farmer John Bruce says rain is desperately needed to help cool things down. (CBC)

The recent hot weather in Nova Scotia is forcing farmers to change how they go about their work.

"It's very frustrating," said John Bruce, a beef and crop farmer whose operation is located near Middleton.

"We're all watching for rain. We desperately need rain. It's extremely hot to try and do any physical work, to be out in the sun, loading hay, anything, work we should be doing, but it's just not reasonable."

During the hot daylight hours, Bruce said workers are doing mechanical work so they don't build up too much of a sweat, while tasks like unloading hay are being done in the morning or at night.

For Frank Cochrane, the co-owner of Cochrane Family Farms in Upper Stewiacke, the hot weather means crop harvesting is being done at night.

"You want fresh crops taken to market and if you try and pick them in this heat, they literally melt and wilt on you right away," he said.

Cochrane said night harvesting is a slower process because you can't see things as easily. Even with a flashlight, harvesting takes longer.

The heat is also posing problems for how things grow.

'They're just withering up'

"Things are either bolting from too much heat so they're growing too fast and not producing the fruit of the vegetable, or they're just withering up and doing what the rest of us feel like doing — laying there and dying," said Cochrane.

He said farmers are used to dealing with weather anomalies on a year-to-year basis, but what's different this year is the extreme swings that have taken place, such as a June frost to the current scorching weather.

"Farming is a timetable. You have to have things going at certain times to catch the number of daylight hours that you have to grow with," said Cochrane.

This has thrown things out of whack.

For example, Cochrane hasn't harvested beans yet this year, but the farm is already selling peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. He said he usually sells the latter items a month later than the beans.

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia

With files from Amy Smith and Richard Woodbury

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