SouthCoast Drought Impacts Fall Harvest and Christmas Trees
The drought is having an impact on the fall harvest in southern New England and could impact the availability and price of locally-grown Christmas trees.
The dried-out leaves of some trees changed colors and fell to the ground in mid-August in some locations. It was a long, hot summer for farmers along the SouthCoast and throughout much of New England.
According to the Associated Press, "This summer's drought is expected to cause a patchy array of fall color starting earlier in the leaf-peeping haven of New England while the autumn colors are likely to be muted and not last as long in the drought and heat-stricken areas of the south."
Fall foliage season is big business in New England, from the apple, peach, and pumpkin harvests here in southern New England to weekend forays to the mountains up north.
Nicole Keleher, director of Forest Health for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, told the Boston Herald that "There are a lot of colors we'll still see, but it might not be as brilliant and as vibrant as we're used to."
Prospective leaf-peepers are advised to monitor foliage updates online as things may be ahead of schedule due to the drought.
CBS Boston quoted one farmer saying apple orchards at some Massachusetts farms are "very, very light on apples." National Public Radio reported that "Severe drought means harvests will be smaller in Massachusetts."
According to Jill Kaufman from New England Public Media, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared the drought in most of Massachusetts, including here on the SouthCoast, a natural disaster.
"Most summer crop harvests in Massachusetts will be smaller this year, at a time when inflation has made supplies more expensive. Fuel costs and labor are really high," Kaufman said.
As a result, prices will increase as well.
Overall, pumpkin supplies here on the SouthCoast appear to be plentiful and prices stable. Some farmers in western Massachusetts say the peach crops there were smaller but sweeter due to the lack of rain.
NBC 10 Boston reported the next thing to worry about is the potential for limited Christmas tree supplies due to the drought. One expert recommends "tagging trees early this year due to limited supply."