Farmers Welcome Heavy Rains to Break Drought - NBC Connecticut

Farmers Welcome Heavy Rains to Break Drought

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    A good soaking rain is just what Connecticut’s farmers were wishing for in July and August, but it didn’t come until Thursday.

    “I’m happy, but it’s a little late," said Steve Bengtson, owner of Cold Spring Brook Farm.

    Planting season started in May, and Mother Nature was less than cooperative.

    “The ground was like powder by the end of the month," Bengtson recalled.

    Connecticut soil suffers from a five inch deficit, but the amount of rain isn’t the only problem. Experts say it’s not even the biggest.

    “The problem has been it’s been a long period of time since we’ve had rain." said Connecticut Farm Bureau Executive Director Henry Talmage.

    With only two inches combined through July and August, vulnerable crops like peppers and sweet corn are showing signs of stress.

    “The stress from lack of moisture can relay into total crop failure, reduction in yields, in some cases wilting and crop damage," said Talmage. Even if the crop grows, lack of rain can still hurt the harvest.

    “The size of the fruit is affected and the quantity of the fruit is affected," Bengtson explained.

    Bengston said this year irrigation saved his crop. In the absence of rain, he used 1,500 gallons of water every day. And Thursday's rain is a good start even if it's too late for some crops.

    “A good soaking rain of at least an inch will make a difference on the crops that are border line," Talmage said.

    Some crops like the dry weather. Bengtson said his tomatoes are sweeter than usual. Talmage added that wine grapes also get more sweet in hot dry conditions. He said despite suffering some stress, apples are expected to be strong as well. At this point with the fields soaking up the raindrops, they're looking on to the next season.

    “I’m happy we’re getting it though, because that will help us to get ready for fall." Bengston said.