Drought impacts farms and orchards

MIDDLEFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — The drought and the hot weather have been tough on farms and orchards. Ninety-nine percent of the state – including Middlefield where Lyman Orchards is located – is in a moderate drought. Ten percent is in a severe drought.

This dry summer follows a cold winter, which ruined this year’s peach crop. The peaches for sale at Lyman Orchards were grown elsewhere.

“We had a real cold blast in the middle of February which unfortunately killed the buds for the crop,” said John Lyman, Executive Vice President of Lyman Orchards.

However, the problem now is it’s too hot. The fruit trees could use several inches of rain. Crews will be able to irrigate crops in fields, but they can’t do that with the fruit trees. That’s going to affect the fruit.

“The crops begin to get stressed with all the heat and everything. Eventually it could lead to early ripening,” said Lyman.

The Pick-Your-Own pears season started Thursday at Lyman Orchards, though not all of the pears are ready. The ripe pears are about a week ahead of schedule because of the weather.

“[The fruit] will be really sweet this year,” said Tim Burt, Director of Marketing for Lyman Orchards. “It may be a little bit smaller sized but the trade off is it’s much better tasting fruit.”

Everything is expected to be ripe about a week earlier than normal because of the hot and dry weather. Therefore, visitors will likely have more time to pick their own pears, apples, and other fruit.

“I don’t anticipate the season ending early,” said Lyman. “I think we’ll be able to continue to go right through. Normally we get to the middle of November with apples. I suspect that we’ll be able to do the same again this year.”

The shoreline needs another three and a half inches of rain. Areas inland are short more than eight inches.

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