Drought Raises Concerns for Blueberry Farmers

A long stretch of hot, dry weather is making Maine farmers sweat, worried about the condition of their crops during one of the worst droughts in years.

Much of New England is experiencing a drought, and in York County, Maine, ground water levels for the month of July are the lowest since 1989, according to the US Geological Survey.

"It seems pretty unusual," said Stacy Grant, of Grant's Farm in Saco. "The lack of rain and the dryness is not good."

On Grant's Farm, the drought has not impacted the quality of the crops.

"We are doing okay, and it's 100 percent because of our pivot irrigation system," said Grant.

But it has been an added expense. The pump system for the irrigation runs on diesel fuel. The farm pumps water from a pond on the property, and so far, they have had to remove 8 million gallons of water for the crops.

At blueberry farm Libby & Son in Limerick, Maine, it's a similar situation: a drip irrigation system has kept crops in good condition, but farmers are still concerned.

"We're worried, there's a limit to how much water you can pump," said Aaron Libby, owner of the farm.

The farmers said the quick, and strong thunderstorms this month have not brought the kind of rain they need to really get into the soil and improve drought conditions.

Smaller operations, without irrigation systems, are struggling. According to the owner of Dragonfly Meadow Blueberry Farm in Arundel, some patches of the blueberry farm haven't been able to grow any berries this year.

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