Heat affecting blueberries, other crops

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 8:57 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 31, 2020 at 8:59 PM EDT
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The lack of rainfall and very warm temperatures this growing season has affected many farmers in The County, including a blueberry farm in Caribou. Kathy McCarty speaks with the owner about how he's getting by.

The drought has farmers relying on irrigation this summer. Sam Blackstone, owner of Circle B Farms, says irrigation is better than nothing, but nothing can take the place of Mother Nature.

“We’ve been irrigating right around the clock. I’ve got pumps I haven’t shut off for over two months, and they just go round and round and round. So we have a decent crop. The heat’s bothering us more than the lack of water,” says Sam Blackston.

It’s not just customers in the you-pick blueberry field feeling the heat, the hot days have also stressed the blueberry plants.

He says “If you get much over 75, 80 degrees, blueberry plants will struggle, and that makes it tough. We’re also pulling cold water out of wells - coming out of there 40 degrees, sometimes a little less, so that’s kind of a shock to the plant.”

All his crops, not only the blueberries, have needed water. For some plants, the problem started last fall, with dry conditions then impacting the growth of his fruit trees now. He’s also using two water guns to provide water for his vegetable garden. And then there are the weeds and insects that seem to take advantage of hot summer days. But overall, he’s optimistic.

“Our stuff, in general, looks pretty good, just because we have been spending the extra money and extra labor to pump water. If Ted could bring us a little rain, that would be nice,” says Blackstone.

Blackstone says while other parts of The County have received rain recently, he’s seen very little at his farm. He says if it means continuing to pump water, he’ll do whatever it takes to provide people with locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Kathy McCarty, NewsSource 8

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