Eastern Shore farmers, working through the drought

DELMARVA – On the Eastern Shore, local farmers say they’re desperate for rain, and with summer quickly approaching, the lack of moisture could mean less produce. “Some places further north may of have more rain or even down in Virginia here where we are in the central part, we have had a drought and it’s made it difficult,” says Ginny Rosenkranz with the University of Maryland Extension.

It’s been over two weeks since many farmers on the Eastern Shore have seen any rain. Those preparing for summer, which is prime time for crops, farmers tell us, the drought could pose a problem. “This is a far different scenario then we’ve had in the past few years especially the past few springs have been extremely wet,” says Matt Holloway, owner of Baywater and Quantico Creek Sod Farms. ” We really don’t want to flood, we don’t want the wet conditions like we’ve had the past few years, just everything in moderation.”

According to local farmers and agriculture experts, dry weather over long periods of time could really hinder crops. Now with businesses opening back up,  farmers say they’re ready to start selling their summer produce, but this year it may take a little more work than in the past. “If you want vegetables, they need to have water, they need to have sun, and they need to have fertilizer,” says Rosenkranz.

Farmers we spoke with say, as a farmer they’re never fully happy. They ideally want heavy soaking rain at least once a week, but that hasn’t been happening so far. They add, trying to cooperate with the weather is always the biggest challenge. Meanwhile, some produce is actually said to be thriving during the drought compared to recent years. “As long as you have irrigation at the root zone it’s actually beneficial to have a dryer top environment, less disease pressure and the plants overall are healthier and they’re growing extremely fast right now,” says Holloway.

However, when the weather is extra dry, they say they make use of their irrigation systems to help out. “Once you start irrigating you really need to keep irrigating because you’re pretty much keeping the ground on life support,” says Holloway.

Although agriculture experts say droughts make their jobs harder in some aspects, they always learn to adapt, and over come. “You’ll see these running non-stop from now until probably September or so when things start to cool back down,” says Holloway. He adds, “That’s just gonna be the life of a farmer for the next six months.”

Agriculture experts also tell 47 ABC, Memorial day weekend is said to bring almost two inches of rain, and that rain could save some of the crops that are really struggling right now. Holloway says even though rain isn’t ideal on the holiday weekend, more rain means more flourishing crops.

Rosenkranz also wants to remind people that if you have moved any of your plants from a garden center or green house to your outside garden, make sure to water them daily for the next few weeks.

Categories: Delaware, Local News, Maryland, Virginia