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Low rainfall affects summer crop harvest

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Drier than normal conditions have severely impacted Bermuda's summer crop harvest, a leading farmer said yesterday.

Carlos Amaral, president of the Bermuda Farmers' Association, said that his operation's sweetcorn harvest has been affected, while other crops are “holding on”.

The island has received 26.73 inches of rainfall this year, down more than six inches from the 33.34 inches of rainfall that has normally fallen by this date.

Less than half an inch of rain had fallen in the 30 days before yesterday.

Mr Amaral, who runs Bleak Farm off Watlington Road West in Devonshire with his brother, Antonio, said: “We had a real bad harvest of sweetcorn last week.”

Mr Amaral added: The yield was significantly impacted by the lack of rain.”

He added: “We don't do a crazy amount of summer planting, other than pumpkin and sweet potatoes. Those two crops have been in dire need of rain. They are basically holding on, until we get a decent rainfall.”

Mr Amaral said there was some respite from the dry conditions in Devonshire yesterday morning.

He said: “It rained for about 30 to 40 minutes, but it was an isolated downpour. That is typical of this time of year.

“There can be a deluge in Southampton or St George's, but the central parishes can be dry, or vice versa.

“The banana crop will be grateful for rain. In the next three or four weeks, you will see more local bananas hit the market.”

Roger Pacheco Sr, who runs Pacheco & Sons Farm, said the weather was having a dramatic impact on his crops of pumpkin, green peppers, sweet potatoes and corn.

Mr Pacheco said: “Everything has come to a standstill. Everything is suffering; everything is just drying up in the field.

“We have five acres up in Somerset of corn. The two acres we harvested from last week, we might have got half the crop.

“The other three acres that are coming are all going to be lost. The rain hasn't come for it, so we won't get anything from it.”

He added: “Pretty soon, it will be time to get carrots started, but with no rain, they're not going to germinate.”

Even the small shower that hit Devonshire yesterday morning has its downside, he said.

Mr Pacheco said: “Little sprinkles do more harm than good. In Devonshire, we had drizzle for ten minutes and when it stopped, it felt like it got 15 degrees hotter.”

He added: “This year seems to be a lot worse than normal. In June we got lucky, we were getting rain once a week, but then July was bone dry.”

Tom Wadson runs Wadson's Farm on Luke's Pond Road in Southampton.

He said: “It's dry, it's difficult, a lot of stuff is burning up. It's tough out here right now, but we press on.

“We are trying to finish up digging some carrots, but it's tough getting them out of the ground because it's real hot. The ground is set up like brick.”

Mr Wadson said his sweetcorn harvest “got kicked”.

He said: “We're not picking anything in corn.”

Mr Wadson added: “It's hot and dry, it's August.”

Mr Amaral said the hot, dry conditions do have one benefit.

He said: “Yes, it's dry. Yes, it's hot. But the Azores-Bermuda high keeps hurricanes to the south of us.

“I would rather deal with a lack of rain than a Category 2 or 3 hurricane. I will take the heat and dryness over the stress and aggravation that a hurricane brings.”

Too little, too late: a relatively small amout of rainfall hit parts of Bermuda yesterday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Rainfall yesterday, after the island experienced a water drought (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published August 12, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated August 12, 2020 at 8:15 am)

Low rainfall affects summer crop harvest

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