May 'rainpocalypse' hindering vegetable crops, farmers say

Last month was the wettest May on record in Ottawa, and local farmers say all that moisture is putting a damper on their spring crops.

Last month's record rainfall, grey skies keeping Ottawa-area farmers from planting

Andy Terauds is vice-president of the Ottawa Farmers' Market and co-owner of Acorn Creek Garden Farm. (CBC News)

Last month was the wettest May on record in Ottawa, and local farmers say all that moisture is putting a damper on their spring crops.

"Last year was warm and dry and you could plant any time," said Andy Terauds, co-owner of Acorn Creek Garden Farm and vice-president of the Ottawa Farmers' Market. 

"It rained before we had a chance to put the crop in."

The soil is so saturated he's only been able to plant about 15 per cent of the vegetable crops he'd normally have in the ground by now, Terauds said.

Rainfall broke 1986 record

The city recorded 175.8 millimetres of rain as of May 30, breaking the 164-millimetre record set in May 1986. The rainfall last month more than doubled the May average of 83 millimetres.

Farmers are hoping June will bring the sunshine they desperately need.

Terauds has 29 hectares of crops on his vegetable farm, located between Carp and Stittsville, but since his property is on clay soil, it's locking in a lot of moisture from the rain.

"People on heavier soil like ourselves are having a hard time getting stuff in. It's been raining kind of every second day or so, and then very often for more than one day at a time," he said.

"It's the lack of sunshine in the gap that makes all the difference for us.... We need about three days now to get things dry enough. Three days in a row."

Perennial crops won't be significantly affected, but Terauds said he's behind schedule with vegetables including the onions, leeks and lettuce he sells on his farm, at the Lansdowne farmers markets and to more than 30 restaurants across the city. 

May 'rainpocalypse'

Vegetable farmer Robin Turner has invented a new word to describe the wettest May on record — "rainpocalypse."

Turner told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning he'll have to cut down on the produce he sells at farmers markets because his crops are suffering. 

"It's had a huge impact on what we're doing," said Turner, co-owner of Roots and Shoots Farm in La Pêche, Que. 

"The real test is going to be in a month or so because things are growing so slowly. And it's not just the rain, it's also the cloud cover and the lack of sun. The plants really need sun. It's going to keep affecting us through June and and into July."

Turner has been farming in the Outaouais since 2007. He said nearly every year has brought some kind of weather-related challenge, whether it's extreme heat, drought, wind or rain.