Maine Farmers Still Feeling Impact of Drought Despite Recent Rain

The National Weather Service in Gray says 76% of Maine is now in a severe drought

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While Mainers coped with downed trees, some property damage and tens of thousands of power outages due to gusty wind, the rain that accompanied the weather system moving through the state on Wednesday was welcomed by farmers.

Some parts of the state are still experiencing drought caused by rainfall eight to 10 inches below normal, according to Donald Dumont, a warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gray.

"Any rain at this point is beneficial," said Dumont.

He explained that 76% of Maine is now in a severe drought and "virtually had no rain in the month of September."

Dumont also said that some areas of Maine had also been declared drought disaster areas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and that there had been reports of wells running dry.

One of the hardest-hit regions is Aroostook County, in the northern part of the state.

While the county is rather spread out, one of its critical industries, potato growing, has been affected by the dry weather.

"We're probably looking at a smaller profile in terms of tuber sizes," said Don Flannery, executive director of the Maine Potato Board.

He explained one of the drought's impacts is likely adding a smaller crop yield for growers as well.

Tens of thousands of customers in Massachusetts were without power Wednesday morning after storms brought down trees and power lines.

"Our yields will be below where they've been the past few years," he said, explaining that an exact total impact won't be known until the potato harvest is complete.

Right now, it's about halfway through.

"It's been stressful, the way your make your living is what you get for a yield, anything that relates to the yield makes a big difference at the end of the day," Flannery said.

He added that the small yield will also likely mean a smaller number of potato seeds for growers for next season.

The growers and many Mainers' hope is for buckets, not drops of rain, in the fall in order to make up for what summer didn't bring.

"We need a month straight of rain," Dumont said. "Eight to ten inches in a month would make a huge difference."

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